Cambridge University, Women in Energy and Stimulus organize Gender Equity and Energy Access Workshop

Islamabad (Muhammad Yasir) A Gender Equity and Energy Access Workshop took place on 02 August 2021, at Marriott Hotel Islamabad in Pakistan, organized by Hira Wajahat (Stimulus; & Women in Energy Pakistan) and Dr. Rihab Khalid (Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge), in collaboration with the Pakistan Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA). The workshop was funded by the Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, as part of the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (QR-GCRF) project: Gender equity and energy access in the Global South. Participants were invited from across Pakistan’s energy sector, including representatives from policy bodies, regulatory authorities, electric utilities, international donor agencies, NGOs, social enterprises, and academics working on energy access issues.

The one-day workshop commenced with an introduction to the project by Ms. Hira and presentation of the key interview findings for the Pakistan case by Dr. Rihab. This was then followed by Session 1 which included a panel response to the policy brief by top energy experts. The panel consisted of Ms. Saadia Qayyum from the World Bank PK, Mr. Saad Latif from K-Electric; Mr. Mehroze  Rafique from NEPRA, Mr. Zaigham Mehmood Rizvi, Chairman PM Housing Task Force, Brig. Shoaib Taqi (Retd) from WAPDA, Mr. Shah Jahan Mirza from PPIB, and Ms. Sobiah Becker from FCDO. Each panelist provided a 5-min response to the policy brief, highlighting key issues and next steps for improving gender equity in Pakistan’s energy sector. This was then followed by Q&A from the audience.

Session 2 included a consultation with the workshop participants, convened by Maha Kamal and Aliya Khan from Women in Energy, Pakistan. In a more interactive format, the workshop participants formed smaller groups to identify key challenges and barriers to gender equity in policy and practice. At the end of the session, key highlights were noted and discussed from each group. Session 3, also led by Women in Energy focused on gender sensitization including brainstorming activities to identify best practices and way forward towards improved gender equity. The session included case study presented by Ms. Farhana Mazhar (WAPDA). The workshop concluded with networking over lunch.

The workshop generated positive response and acknowledgment for the importance of gender equity in energy policies and practices and provided the opportunity for open dialogue between representatives across Pakistan’s energy sector. Participants found the session engaging and motivating and highlighted the need for similar future events and collaborations. The importance of taking ownership of initiatives that focus on greater involvement of women and result in economic empowerment for Pakistan was also discussed.

One key take away from the workshop was understanding energy as a much broader issue that includes social, economic and political dimensions in addition to technology and infrastructure. Participants highlighted the need for multi stakeholder and multidisciplinary engagement across the energy sector to address equity and sustainability.