Harnessing women’s potential as agents of change: A dialogue on the imperatives for inclusive, sustainable growth

Harnessing women’s potential as agents of change: A dialogue on the imperatives for inclusive, sustainable growth

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and compounded existing social and economic inequities, with women bearing the brunt of the pandemic. The crisis has forced the need for re-thinking, re-planning, and re-emerging through recovery plans that not only build back but build back better. Strengthening the role of women is critical to reviving the global economy while also addressing climate priorities for a sustainable future. It is in this context that The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) and South Asia Women in Energy (SAWIE) jointly hosted a virtual dialogue on December 9, focusing on the theme ‘Women on the Rise – Redefining Our Common Future’. The pre-event was organized in the run-up to TERI’s annual summit — the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) 2021. SAWIE, a joint initiative of USAID and the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), has been promoting women’s leadership and gender mainstreaming in energy and other key sectors in the South Asian region. USAID is supporting the SAWIE platform through its Greening the Grid-Renewable Integration and Sustainable Energy (GTG-RISE) initiative implemented by Deloitte Consulting.

The high-level dialogue brought together experts from leading national and international institutions, academics, policymakers, practitioners, and civil society members working in the gender and sustainable development sector. Making a compelling case for gender-inclusive sustainable development, speakers championed greater participation of women in the climate change discourse. “We at USAID strongly believe that gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to effective and sustainable development outcomes. “For societies to thrive, women and girls must have equitable and safe access to resources such as education, health care, capital, energy… and also have equal rights and opportunities as business owners, peacebuilders, and leaders,” said Ramona M El Hamzaoui, Mission Director (Acting), USAID/India. The sentiment echoed in the words of Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI: “Women must be at the center for identification of issues and for decision making. Women’s role as agents of change, especially with regards the climate change agenda, must also be recognized and harnessed.” A strong pitch for more inclusive post-COVID recovery was made by Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chief CSR, Sustainability & Communications Officer, ReNew Power, and Chairperson, SAWIE: “The COVID-19 calamity has well established the need for resilient, inclusive, sustainable, green social order. As we recover from COVID-19, let us focus on the agenda for women.”

n impressive array of leaders from the gender and sustainable development sector joined the dialogue, reflecting on their experiences and suggesting approaches to secure women’s role in shaping a more sustainable future. The event featured two panel discussions; the first panel discussion, on the theme ‘Inclusive Climate Priorities’, saw the experts discuss existing gender disparities and the importance of inclusive climate priorities, new narratives, co-creation, and other efforts to promote gender equitable systems. The second panel discussion, focused on the theme ‘Sustainability and New-age Women Leaders’, showcased how women leaders are driving sustainable development and climate action globally and locally and why and how more women must seize and realize such opportunities for themselves and for other women.

To access the webinar recording, please click here.