Dr Reihana Mohideen to lead workshop on gender equality in the energy sector at ACEF
Dr Reihana Mohideen, Program Leader for Energy, Community and the Region at MEI, is a member of the 2019 Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) Advisory Group and has organised a workshop at the Forum on gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) considerations in the energy sector.
[Dr Reihana Mohideen at the University of Melbourne. Picture: Sam Davison.]
ACEF, held on 17-21 June in Manila, focuses on bringing together a diverse international community to identify, discuss and address the key clean energy challenges in the region.
Dr Reihana Mohideen explains the significance of the Forum, her work there and the opportunities for women in the energy transition.
Why is the ACEF an important meeting place for practitioners and implementers globally?
The ACEF is one of the leading energy events in Asia and the focus is on solving problems, specifically addressing the important energy challenges faced by countries in Asia and also the Pacific region. The technical discussions are linked to cross-cutting issues of major concern in our region, such as reducing poverty and inequalities, including gender inequality, tackling climate change by building climate and disaster resilience, making cities more livable, rural development and food security, etc. The conference brings together a diverse mix of participants from Asia and internationally -- project developers, financial institutions and investors, non-profits, entrepreneurs, government officials, donors and program managers, NGOs and academia. In 2018 over 1,300 people from 73 countries attended the forum.
What has your role as a member of the ACEF Advisory Group involved?
The Advisory Group is expected to provide high-level guidance to ensure that the forum is relevant to addressing these issues and useful to the participants. My focus has been to ensure that the social equity issues linked to energy and power sector development are adequately covered in the program, to promote a gender balance in speakers for the various sessions and to generally promote a gender inclusive forum culture.
Can you tell us about the Deep Dive Workshop you’re hosting titled ‘Women Power – Smarter, Inclusive Energy Solutions'?
The objective of the workshop is for participants to gain in-depth and cross-disciplinary knowledge on the linkages, frameworks and methodologies and practical applications of gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) considerations in the energy sector. The applications – or the case study projects -- focus on South Asia – India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The participants will get a chance to engage with experts in this field, those with both engineering and social expertise, as well as to interact with other participants, across disciplines, expertise and operational contexts.
How does the low-carbon energy transition present an opportunity to women in Asia?
Because it’s disruptive – potentially in a good way, especially in developing countries. The transition implies a transformation in the way we produce and consume energy – towards a ‘smarter’ grid, if you like. And in the context of developing Asia, where the grid is still relatively unhindered by legacy issues related to old systems in the power sector, this provides countries with the opportunity to leapfrog stages – using technology innovation – towards solutions that use fewer capital intensive, centralised systems. For example, we can now use renewable energy powered microgrids to solve the problem of rural electrification. This leapfrogging ‘development’ also provides opportunities to address social equity gaps, to leapfrog with solutions that can bring important welfare benefits and improvements in women’s quality of life and economic status, more cheaply and sustainably than the older technology and there is a significant body of evidence that demonstrates this.