ISLAMABAD /DNA/ – Experts at a webinar said that despite glass ceiling, women in Pakistan are now pursuing their careers in science and technology with the mission to lead the country towards a prosperous future for which clean energy is the key to success.
The webinar titled: ‘Role of Women in Energy and Climate Talks of Pakistan’, was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on the occasion of International Day of Women and Girls in Science here.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms Syma Nadeem, Parliamentary Secretary and Convenor of SDG 7, Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, said that a bill regarding a comprehensive renewable energy policy will soon be tabled in the National Assembly and she is taking lead in this connection. She said Pakistan is well aware of the value of shifting to renewable energy resources according to the standards set by the United Nations, and the government is successfully using solar, wind and hydroelectrical sources to meet the country’s agricultural and domestic needs. Moreover, she added, the growing demand of electricity greatly emphasizes upon us to shift to renewable energy by 30% till the year 2030.
Ms Nadeem called upon academia and think tanks to play their role to shift to renewable resources. She elaborated that the clean energy network, which SDPI has created, is also a great success, as it will envision policy recommendations for the ministries concerned on quarterly basis so that they could incorporate the same in the legislations regarding clean energy.
Ms Roohi Raees Khan, Chairperson of Board of Directors, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, was of the view that the country needs energy security, food security, social security, and national security. On energy front, we need a well-defined and coherent policy, which is now missing unfortunately. Women are not taken on board in many policy circles, she said.
“Gas reserves in Pakistan are depleting and no further exploration has taken place, and that’s why we have been importing at a very high cost that the exchequer doesn’t allow us due to low foreign reserves. This has to be corrected at a forum where the energy policy is formulated.”
SNGPL is looking for green energy itself and seeking alternatives like solar and biogas. She lamented that people do not know much about the conservation of energy. “Gas worth Rs 6 billion could be saved by adopting a proper strategy and overcoming line losses.” By the end of 2022, we will be able to counter gas leakages after the system being digitized, she said. SNGPL is also considering producing gas from bio-mass fuel as an alternative source, she added.
Ms Hira Wajahat, National Lead of Climate Launchpad, while discussing the barriers in the way of women to excel in the energy sector, said traditionally careers in these fields are male-dominated, however since 2017 women have been working on many strategic positions, which shows the old mindset is changing. Young people are much enthusiastic about this change where the female co-founder pitch in the new startups, she said, adding that in the technology and the entrepreneurship, almost 50 % programmes are led by women. Girls in STEM have also been doing a great job, and now it is not meant for men alone.
In response to a question, she said that in any field and department, women should be given some extra levies, equal representation and safe working environment. She added that taxes on technology transfer should not hurt our effort to put the country on the track of renewable energy.
Ms Nameerah Hameed, Founder of Women in Energy, Pakistan, said that now there are 32% women serving in the energy sector. Younger female graduates have been entering and opting for careers in the fields of the renewable energy. Regrading barriers before women in these fields, she said, perception of gender role is a major barrier in their way.
Ms Maha Kamal, Co-Chair of Women in Energy, was of the view that gender gap is found in all the fields and energy sector is no exception. She added that the bargaining power and the decision-making power of women make them fit for these fields. However, what is important to make level playing field at policy level, board members and leadership level is again linked to the overall gender equality gape issue. Criticizing new tax on solar panels, it will tarnish our progress on climate-related Sustainable Development Goals. She called upon the government to be mindful of the risks of such measures.
Dr Hina Aslam, SDPI Research Fellow, said that 11th February is being celebrated worldwide to highlight the role and endeavors of women and girls in STEM and other cutting-edge fields like energy and climate change. She said that the urge among women to work in the fields like energy and STEM is highly encouraging and a good sign.
However, she said, women are lagging behind leadership roles. “We need to bridge the gap in order to achieve more sustainable development.: She called upon academia to come up with innovative solutions and implementable knowledge.