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The world is full of bioenergy heroines

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) – a good day for contemplative reflection over why, in 2018, 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. 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.

In the bioenergy world, there is no shortage of things being accomplished by people who just happen to be women. This includes the highly qualified, talented and dedicated individuals featured above that it is both a pleasure and a privilege to work with.

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 patronising 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 2018, the gender equality disparity still ranges from subtle institutional to medieval oppressive with such horrors as so-called “honour killings”, acid attacks and female genital mutilation (FGM) all three of which are still widely held and practised. Not to forget organised crime with sex-slaves and other forms of “skin-trade” trafficking.

All of the above may seem extreme and exceptional, far removed from the bioenergy world. However, 2017’s #MeToo hashtag on sexual abuse is a very stark reminder that much needs to be done, even in sectors, workplaces and institutions in societies perceived as modern and progressive.

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 household cooking itself) is still designated, by a man, as a typical “woman’s chore” in many parts of the world.

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.

This slideshow, albeit from last year, highlights just a selection of the many that Bioenergy International has had the pleasure of meeting and finding inspiration from. 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, from promoting clean cooking to rolling out sanitation programmes.

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 work with something biomass related and happen to be women.

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