Renewable energy and climate leaders stress importance of breaking down gender barriers
- United Arab Emirates: Saturday, January 19 - 2013 at 11:00
- PRESS RELEASE
Energy and climate leaders stressed the importance of breaking down gender barriers to increase women's participation in the emerging sectors of renewable energy and sustainability. Leaders said that increased participation by women can support efforts to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and help mitigate climate change.
The panel discussion was organised by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate of Energy and Climate Change, Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.
Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said, "Our founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, laid the foundation for empowering women in the UAE - ensuring that they are equipped with the necessary tools to actively participate in the development of the nation. Today, our wise and visionary leadership continues to build on this legacy through various initiatives. The Masdar Institute, for example, boasts 35% female students; while Masdar is proud to contribute to this vision by ensuring women's participation in various projects and forums of engagement."
"Equal participation from men and women is critical in order to achieve energy security and global sustainability," said Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Sustainability at Masdar and moderator of the panel discussion.
"In the UAE, and the rest of the world, we need to encourage young women to take more active leadership roles in the renewable energy and sustainability sectors," she added.
"It is also important that we address the challenges that hinder young women from excelling in these industries," added further Dr Al-Hosany. "From a lack of educational incentives and career opportunities to cultural perceptions, we must seriously consider the barriers that impede women from entering into advanced careers and becoming active voices. The world has a lot to gain, as greater participation by women will support the acceleration of innovations that support sustainable development," she concluded.
The panel made a series of recommendations for how to integrate young women into the renewable energy and sustainability sectors. Recommendations included: creating scholarships for women to pursue degrees in emerging industries, creating global mentorship programmes, creating economic incentives for women entrepreneurs to invest in new sectors, such as renewable energy and sustainability, and to increase in the number of women participating in climate change think-tanks and negotiations.
"Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time and both men and women must be involved in finding a solution," said Dr Lamya N. Fawwaz, Executive Director - Public Affairs, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.
"By increasing the participation of women in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability, we can begin to develop solutions that are gender inclusive and address the needs of both men and women. Society will immensely benefit if more women are empowered to actively participate in science and engineering sectors, and contribute to the fight against climate change," she added.
The panel featured local, regional and international women leaders from various fields, including energy, education and policy. Panellists included: Amna Ali Al Muhairy, Deputy Director of Human Rights Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Freda Miriklis, President of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Mindy Lubber, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ceres; and Dr Lamya N. Fawwaz, Executive Director - Public Affairs at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and Anousheh Ansari, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Prodea Systems.
Students from universities in the UAE exploring careers in alternate energy and sustainability were also represented on the panel.
"The opportunity to identify and discuss barriers to female participation within the climate change industry is an important step in overcoming those very hurdles," said Reem Al Junaibi, a student panelist currently doing her Masters in Engineering Systems and Management at Zayed University.
"Young women like me who are committed to making a difference in the fight against climate change can draw great encouragement from the experience and recommendations of the panel to support the development of women within the industry," she added.
The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology - a graduate-level, research university focused on renewable energy and clean technologies - is an example of the strides being taken to engage women in emerging sectors. Today, the university's Young Future Energy Leaders mentorship programme is 45% women.
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