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International Women's Day 2017 and Bioenergy International

Today is International Women’s Day – a good day for contemplative reflection over why, in 2017, we still need to earmark a day to highlight a fundamental gender equality issue that affects the lives, health, opportunities and influence of roughly 50 percent of the global population.

As a “male” it would be easy to just “celebrate” International Women’s Day (IWD) with a few passing superlatives about the women in our personal and professional lives. And whilst true and well deserved it would be a disservice if we, at the same time, do not actively strive to bridge the gender equality gap in our homes, our schools, our workplaces and our societies.

In short, every day should be a woman’s day just as it much as it is man’s day, in a gender-equal world. Sadly, the reality is that in 2017, the gender equality disparity ranges from subtle institutional to medieval oppressive with horrors such as so-called “honour killings” and female genital mutilation (FGM) still widely held and practiced.

That is why, as a person who believes that everyone should receive equal treatment and not be discriminated against based on their gender (or anything else for that matter), it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day by recognizing the accomplishments of women everywhere while advocating for gender equality.

In the biomass to energy world, there is no shortage of things being accomplished by people who just happen to be women, be it in a leadership or a supportive role, a front figure or a background fixer. Some are roles made by choice, others are definitely not. Collecting firewood for cooking (and cooking itself) is still designated, by a man, as a typical “woman’s chore” in many parts of the world.

This slideshow highlights just a selection of the many that Bioenergy International has had the pleasure of meeting and finding inspiration from during 2015/2016. The people portrayed are found across the spectrum and in different countries; from cutting edge R&D to running major trade events, from operating forest machinery to running biorefineries, from managing heat and power plants to running corporate majors, from trade advocacy to international politics, to mention a few.

Some are familiar faces and have been featured in previous articles whereas others are stories in the making or, as of yet, unsung heroines. There is no internal ranking, no names or job titles, just faces of inspirational people who happen to be women and that work with something biomass related.

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This includes the two highly qualified, talented and dedicated individuals featured above that it is a both a pleasure and a privilege to work with and without whom this publication would simply not exist.

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