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TERI workshop calls for women to lead green economy

Feb 02, 2012

Women must make a start by taking action at the local level, urged Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom at special session on women and green economy in New Delhi, organised by TERI and Earth Day Network.

"As opposed to waiting for action to happen, it will be better if women go out and take action."

New Delhi: This was the exhortation of Nobel Laureate Prof. Elinor Ostrom who attended the special session on Women and the Green Economy organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in partnership with the Earth Day Network, as a precursor to the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) 2012. A part of the WAGE Campaign being led by the Earth Day Network, the special forum brought about a dedicated focus on women and their challenges and opportunities. 

Prof. Elinor Ostrom, the 2009 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, shared from her own example, in which she traced her journey from struggling to get into college to becoming a Nobel Laureate. She exhorted young women should not listen to conversations that push them down.

A green economy is produced by members of a family learning when they can walk as opposed to taking an automobile.

"As opposed to waiting for action, it will be better if women go out and take action. And local is an important place to start. A green economy is produced by members of a family learning when they can walk as opposed to taking an automobile. It is about getting informed about what can be done in local communities, and getting organisations going at a local level," she said.

Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Director-General, TERI highlighted that the impacts of climate change are gender biased. He stressed the need to have cleaner and greener and less business-as-usual solutions that bring benefits for women and society. This is more urgent, he added, because the impacts of climate change are assuming serious proportions.


The WAGE Forum started with a panel discussion on the Crisis of Leadership: Why and How Women should lead the Green Economy. This session, moderated by Dr. Ligia Noronha from TERI, underlined the need for inclusiveness, which is the basic determinant of development in any society.

"If you don't have a participatory economy, it will be difficult to get the 8% growth in economy," said panel member Jyoti Parekh, from IRADe. Her views were echoed by Anne F. Stenhammer, Director, UN Women, who added, "Economic growth is unfeasible if half of the human resources are left out of work that brings such growth."

Making a direct point on the issue of crisis of leadership, Dr. Govind Kelkar, from UN Women stated that the crisis of leadership is not because men are leading. It is because of a lack of consultation with the other half of society of women, the adivasis, tribal populations and dalits.

Media perspective

An interesting session on Changing the Green Economy Dialogue with Media Decision makers and Thought leaders brought together senior journalists to discuss trends in reporting by women, and the presence of women in the business media.

Kalpana Sharma stressed the need for increased gender sensitivity in the media, and the need for a more responsible and inclusive media. A senior business journalist, Sushma Ramachandran highlighted the need for the business press to recognise women workers in the economy, the farmers and factory workers, who are significant in the economy but remain an anonymous lot.

Over time, a shift in women's presence in media and the kind of reporting they undertake, has taken place. Narayani Ganesh shared her experiences of stories reported by women journalists, which have started having their small, albeit significant impacts on the ground. The need for more female perspectives in the media was an issue unequivocally raised by all panel members. That this would also need proper training and fellowships to journalists interested in developmental reporting was also stressed upon.

Leadership challenges

The concluding panel on Women’s Leadership in promoting Sustainability in Government, Business and Civil Society focused on leadership in both personal and professional aspects.

Leena Srivastava from TERI highlighted that while women face challenges in taking a leadership role within their community, they at the same time do have opportunities of leadership at home. As leadership qualities are inculcated from childhood, the role of women to create such an enabling environment at home becomes primary.

Ritu Verma from ICIMOD stressed the role of mentors, and need for mentoring opportunities that strengthen the leadership skills of women.

Harish Hande of SELCO pointed out that the thinking process has gained upper hand over actually creating opportunities/ ecosystems for women to grow. "Solution is the best form of protest," he stressed. Citing the instance of his organisation, SELCO, he underlined, "In true sense, women's empowerment is the case of a woman-led company, where men work for women."

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