Fayaz Ahmed's Interview with Women In Energy Pakistan
Fayaz Ahmed: First of all, Can you tell me what made you decide to start Women in Energy?
Women in Energy: As female professionals in the energy sector, we saw a need for professional networks and spaces for women in this sector. Across South Asia, there is a lack of presence in the energy sector, with some statistics showing the percentage being 3 percent to 15 percent in some critical energy roles.
Following discussions with relevant stakeholders in 2017, it was agreed that an initiative titled Women in Energy (WIE) is a valuable contribution to women’s empowerment in Pakistan. WIE received early support from the leadership and institutional structure, through a partnership between Energy Department, Government of Punjab and Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW). A MoU for collaboration was signed on March 8, 2018. Later that year, WIE formed a Strategic Partnership with the World Bank’s WEPOWER, a South Asian regional network.
Since then, there has been no looking back. So many women told us that they had been looking for a platform like this. And we could not be more thrilled to see how this initiative has taken shape since!
Fayaz Ahmed: Can you tell me more about Women in Energy? And who are Women in Energy for?
Women in Energy: We aim to build a strong network of women leaders in Pakistan’s energy sector and foster a culture of career and leadership development. We represent all career stages and work towards mentorship for early-mid career women in the energy sector. Since our inception, we have hosted workshops, power networking lunches, field visits, increased representation of women on key energy conferences et cetera and most recently hosted panels alongside our first virtual job fair in collaboration with other women-led networks in Paksitan. You may read more about it here: https://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/pakistans-first-ever-virtual-job-fair-opens-opportunities-women-stem.
Fayaz Ahmed: Women in Energy focuses on building a strong network of women in Pakistan’s energy sector, why particularly you chose energy sector and not other sectors?
Women in Energy: Pakistan has some of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the world, but this under-representation is starker in the energy sector. What is interesting is that Pakistan has one of the highest number of women enrolled in engineering programs, but its energy utilities only have about 4% women according to the World Bank commissioned WEPOWER baseline report. As women in the energy sector, we have a first-hand understanding on this issue and therefore it became our focus.
Fayaz Ahmed: How do Women in Energy help fellow women in energy grow personally and professionally?
Women in Energy: As women working in the energy and power sector, there have been a number of efforts to support and advance our professional careers over the last many years — from donor-funded engagements to individual grassroots efforts. Following discussions with relevant stakeholders, it was agreed that a concerted effort was required to build a strong professional network of women in Pakistan’s energy sector and foster a culture of career and leadership development. For this reason, our Women In Energy-Pakistan (WIE) network was officially launched on Women’s Day in 2018.
With a belief in advancing women through the power of community, the mission is clearly laid out in front of us — build upon the work already done; collaborate with other women-led initiatives and partners; and always remember who we serve and aim to strengthen: women professionals in the sector. To this end, we have mentorship programs, workshops, field visits, power networking lunches, conferences, etc. all aimed at developing the women in the energy sector.
Fayaz Ahmed: Is Women in Energy also keen on helping young females in Pakistan’s colleges and universities who aspire to serve Pakistan’s energy sector in the future?
Women in Energy: Absolutely! We held our STEM Forward 2020 job fair in collaboration with WEP & Women in Tech for this very reason. Amidst this global pandemic, we wanted to facilitate young people, particularly young women who want to be a part of Pakistan’s Energy Sector, and helped connect employers and job seekers with digital ease. In addition we organized workshops specifically for skill building. We have an ongoing mentorship program to keep momentum up.
Fayaz Ahmed: Women in Energy have partnered with some renowned international groups/organizations. Please tell us about your partnerships that you are most proud of and why:
Women in Energy: We are most proud of our ongoing strategic partnership with the World Bank’s WEPOWER initiative, a vibrant voluntary women’s professional network in Energy and Power Sector in South Asia that supports women's participation in energy. This platform has helped us connect with like-minded professional organizations and networks across South Asia, and we develop best practices for our mutual goals.
We maintain strong industry linkages with WAPDA through a recently signed MoU, we are connected to organizations like K-Electric and Engro Energy Limited, and internationally we are connected to GWNet the Global Women's Network for the Energy Transition which aims to advance the global energy transition by empowering women in energy through interdisciplinary networking, advocacy, training etc., like us.
Fayaz Ahmed: How can someone join Women in Energy? And if someone is not a member of the Women in Energy, what they are seriously missing out right now!
Women in Energy: You may join by subscribing to our monthly newsletters that will help connect you to events and networking platforms: http://womeninenergy.pk/about-us
Fayaz Ahmed: What’s next for Women in Energy? Going forward, what role do Women in Energy want to play in the energy future of Pakistan?
Women in Energy: We aim for gender equity in Pakistan’s energy sector, with greater sustainable development and a green economy with the full participation of women. We are on a mission to help women in the energy sector achieve their highest potential, and for Pakistan’s energy sector to thrive socially, environmentally and economically.
About Women In Energy:
Women In Energy aims to build a strong network of women in Pakistan’s energy sector and foster a culture of career and leadership development.