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WePOWER SAR100 Program Celebrates Women Engineers in South Asia

08 Mar 2024
AIT webmaster

By AIT Public Affairs

8 March 2024: The WePOWER Regional Knowledge Hub at the Yunus Center, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), celebrated a significant milestone on March 8, 2024, with the conclusion of the SAR100 Program Capstone Week and Award Ceremony. Esteemed author and philanthropist Dr. Sudha Murty illuminated the event, not only by her presence but also by bestowing the graduation certificates, serving as a beacon of inspiration for many. The 5-day event, from March 4 to 8, concluded with the celebration of the accomplishments of women engineers from seven South Asian countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, marking a pivotal step toward empowering women in the power and energy sectors.

Initiated in June 2023 with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Palladium International, the SAR100 program offered a comprehensive 8-month curriculum to 101 mid-career women engineers. The program, a part of the South Asia Regional Infrastructure Connectivity (SARIC) initiative, included ten 3-week teaching modules and practical experiences, culminating in a capstone seminar at AIT in Bangkok. Participants earned a professional credential from AIT’s Energy Development: Systems, Management, & Technology program.

Dr. Sudha Murthy (Middle) giving the graduation certificate to a participant

The Capstone program, following a rigorous 8-month online training, aimed at providing the participants with real-world experiences in Thailand. Here, they observed and learned about new technologies being applied, preparing them to implement these advancements back in their countries. This program, carrying academic credits, required participants to present and defend their final projects, assigned last December. Participants, divided into ten groups with dedicated supervisors, engaged in round table discussions to exchange insights and learnings. Additionally, the program sought to foster lasting friendships among participants, resource persons, AIT, and all involved, beyond its educational goals.

The WePOWER Interim Secretariat congratulated SAR100 program graduates, acknowledging their role in advancing the South Asia power sector’s shift towards renewable technologies. The program developed by the WePOWER Large Systems Working Group, has been praised for promoting regional collaboration and diversity. Special thanks were given to the  Energy Development: Systems, Management & Technology program at AIT and expert tutors for their contribution to the initiative’s success. The graduates are encouraged to continue their path of learning and collaboration, with WePOWER looking forward to future partnerships.

Prof. Kazuo Yamamoto, President of AIT, expressed gratitude to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, for trusting the Yunus Center at AIT with the SAR100 program, acknowledging the center’s decade-long work in the energy and water sectors. He also appreciated the invaluable contributions of collaborating partners to the program’s success. Prof. Yamamoto highlighted the dedication and effort of the officials at the Yunus Center and School of Environment Resources and Development in addressing challenges to achieve program goals, setting a new standard for collaborative online international programs. Above all, he commended the graduates for their commitment and perseverance in balancing professional and family duties while completing this demanding program.

Prof. Kazuo Yamamoto
Prof. Faiz Shah

Prof. Faiz Shah, Program Lead, WePOWER-SAR100, emphasized the program’s success as a collective achievement driven by the dedication of mentors and educators alongside the participants’ determination. He stressed the value of replicating such initiatives and utilizing participant feedback to enhance dynamic learning environments.

At the award ceremony, Dr. Sudha Murthy spoke warmly about her experiences, highlighting women’s struggles in juggling careers and family responsibilities. She underscored the critical importance of independence for women and advocated for mid-career women to engage in philanthropy as a means to give back to society. Drawing from her own life, where she chose philanthropy in her later career, Dr. Murthy inspired the graduates. Her message emphasized the value of harmonizing professional success with compassion, urging them to make impactful contributions to their communities.

Dr. Murthy and Prof. Faiz gaving the graduation certificate to a participant and her daughter

The Capstone Week marked the achievements of the SAR100 participants, showcasing their potential as future energy sector leaders. The event, featuring attendees from seven South Asian countries, emphasized the crucial role of women’s empowerment and inclusivity in the energy field’s advancement. Distinguished guests from The World Bank, UN ESCAP, and various embassies highlighted the event, underscoring the importance of global cooperation for gender equality and sustainable progress. As the SAR100 graduates move forward, their success stands as evidence of how education, perseverance, and collective effort can lead to a more just and sustainable world.

Message from the Participants:

Rashi Tyagi, DGM, SJVN Ltd. India: As we mark the end of the SAR100 program, we express deep gratitude for this transformative experience that prepared us for the energy sector in South Asia. A heartfelt thank you to our families, whose sacrifices have been crucial to our success. This journey, filled with challenges, has showcased our resilience and strength, teaching us invaluable skills, and fostering a tight-knit community among us. The bonds and friendships we have formed promise future collaboration and support. This program has proven our ability to balance professional growth with personal commitments, highlighting our potential to contribute significantly to our field. As we move forward, we take with us the lessons, confidence, and connections we have gained, ready to impact the world. A big thank you to our distinguished guests, mentors, supporters, and everyone involved in making this journey impactful, embracing the idea that excellence transcends gender.

Fatima Zahra Marzook, Electrical Engineer, Ceylon Electricity Board, Sri Lanka: On behalf of my fellow SAR100 graduates, I extend our deepest gratitude to our distinguished guests, mentors, and supporters. This journey has been transformative, blending rigorous education with profound personal growth. We have built a resilient community, sharing struggles, triumphs, and an unwavering belief in our collective potential. Despite the sacrifices and missed moments, the experience has been invaluable, teaching us the power of unity and the strength of diversity. As we move forward, we carry knowledge and a shared vision of making impactful contributions to the energy sector and our communities. Let’s continue inspiring, supporting, and leading with the confidence and compassion we’ve fostered here. To everyone who has been a part of this journey, thank you for believing in us and paving the way for future generations. Together, we embark on a path filled with endless possibilities, ready to make a difference.