India: World Bank and ADB join hands to increase women’s participation in energy

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The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have expanded the WePower initiative to India in a bid to increase the participation of women in the energy sector.

The WePower India Partnership Forum was launched during an event organised by the two banks in partnership with India Smart Grid Forum.

The launch comes at a time when utilities in India are accelerating renewable energy deployment, grid modernisation and digitalisation, resulting in an increase in demand for skilled human resources. India has set a target to achieve 450GW of renewable energy installed capacity by 2030 and prime minister Narendra Modi pledged that India will generate 50% of its total electricity using renewables by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, during the COP26 summit held in Glasgow.

However, the number of women filling green jobs within the Indian energy market is very low, according to a statement.

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If India is to ensure its energy transition is just and inclusive, ensuring increased participation of women in the power sector is vital, one would argue.

In its latest report, Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual review 2021, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) calls for global governments to ensure more women are skilled with Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education for them to fill more positions within the power sector as the energy transition is amplified.

The report states that roles occupied by women were mainly affected by the pandemic and with more jobs anticipated to be created by the energy transition than lost, it is vital for governments and energy stakeholders to prepare the women workforce for these jobs. IRENA predicts that some 25 million new green jobs will be created by 2030, surpassing the 7 million lost due to the pandemic.

Vishal Kapoor, Joint Secretary – Distribution, Ministry of Power, Govt of India, said: “Women will be needed to fill the increasing talent demand in the power sector, and their participation in technical and professional roles can contribute greatly to the sector’s effectiveness.”

Kapoor, added: “Indian power sector has made progress in terms of diversifying the workplace and increasing women’s participation, including in leadership positions. In a survey of 28 Indian DISCOMs it was found that 4/5th of them have at least one female at top positions. This represents the growth of women’s participation in the power sector.”

Energy stakeholders present during the launch of WePower India highlighted the need for increased collaboration between organisations and the private and public sectors in funding mechanisms that can help result in more women entering the power sector.