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Participation in solar projects will lead to women empowerment

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Kolkata: If women in Indian villages start participating in solar electricity projects, planning and implementing maintenance they can challenge patriarchy and gender roles discrimination.

Karina Standal and Tanja Winther from the Centre of Development and Environment, University of Oslo, examined in a recent study how the introduction of electricity in new contexts (solar power) affected gender relations in rural communities in Uttar Pradesh in India and in Bamiyan in Afghanistan.

“In terms of empowerment, the women feel that access to solar electricity gave them an easier everyday life and sense of accomplishments in pursuing their roles as mothers and wives/daughters-in-law and the like. This is, of course, very important in raising their life quality,” Standal said in an email interaction from Norway.

Centred on community solar power plants (micro-grids) for generating livelihoods or household electricity in two UP villages and four in Bamiyan, the research revealed contrasting features in terms of inclusion of women in such projects and their ability to counter patriarchy.

The study was published in the Forum For Development Studies on January 20.

Standal elaborated that the Indian project provided women several benefits but did not elevate them to a position where they could actively challenge discriminatory gender relations. In the Afghan case female role-models trained and working as “solar engineers” meant that communities experienced the benefits of women working and receiving the education.

“The Indian case in mention did not have this element in the implementation. Rather, it saw it only useful to train men as ‘village operators’ with responsibilities for the solar equipment. In that sense, this project reinforces patriarchal structures that work to limit women’s role outside their home,” observed Standal.

What emerged was “when projects are carried out without women’s true and equal participation, as in the Indian case, there is lost potential in a more long-term empowerment to challenge discriminating gender roles”.

Standal said the Indian project did attempt at some female representation in Village Energy Committees that are responsible for the solar systems in their village and for the monthly payments from the villagers for the consumption, salary of the village operator, maintaining bank accounts, holding meetings and the like.

“However, the women did not participate in the Village Energy Committees, as they were not allowed to speak freely due to cultural restrictions on women,” Standal said, adding that this scenario “cannot be generalized to Indian villages implementing solar electricity in general”.

But the fact remains, both internationally and in the Indian context, that the issues and opportunities of gender equality and energy development have not been receiving enough attention, stressed Standal.

“Women (in the case studies) are only seen as important end-users and benefits are provided for them to have a better life within the existing patriarchal system,” said Standal laying strong emphasis on ensuring that “women are granted equal access to participation in such projects”.

“Participation (should be) at all levels and not reduced to certain areas to make the most of these energy projects.”

Standal said the Indian project was initiated by a private Norwegian company and executed as a public-private partnership between the company, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Norad (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation).

“The Afghan case was initiated by the NGO Norwegian Church Aid in support with the Indian Barefoot College. Their model of training women as Barefoot Solar Engineers is very interesting and I think has had several added values to the project in terms of impact on gender relations and more opportunities for women,” concluded the researcher.

Adding from her own experience in the field, Indian environmental economist Joyashree Roy of Kolkata’s Jadavpur University, concurred.

“True inclusion of a stakeholder (women) from very beginning helps in getting them to change maker,” Roy said.(IANS)

NewsGram View-Indian women need empowerment and this should be achieved through any means. If this participation helps then the women should be encouraged to take part in such projects.

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Television Academy sets new standards of professional conduct

One key document that has taken on added resonance with recent events is the Television Academy's Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct

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The Television Academy is participating as a member of the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.
The Television Academy is participating as a member of the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. Wikimedia Commons
  • Chairman Hayma Washington sent a letter to Academy members, linking to the two-page code of conduct
  • Violations of the code may result in disciplinary action
  • One key document that has taken on added resonance with recent events is the Television Academy’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct

Following the lead of the film academy and other Hollywood guilds, the Television Academy has established its own new code of ethics and standards of professional conduct.

Chairman Hayma Washington sent a letter to Academy members, linking to the two-page code of conduct, reports variety.com.

The document read: “The Academy has zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment, as well as illegal, dishonest or unethical conduct. The Academy will not tolerate, condone, or ignore unethical conduct and is committed to enforcing these standards at all levels.”

Violations of the code may result in disciplinary action, “up to and including being refused admission or ejected from an event, being barred from future events, or the suspension or expulsion of membership”.

Also Read: Where is Indian Television Steering?

In the wake of the sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, the Academy voted in November to permanently expel him from their ranks.

The letter read: “As we recently announced, the Television Academy has taken the last year to review and revise several of its governing documents.

One key document that has taken on added resonance with recent events is the Television Academy’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.

In the wake of the sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, the Academy voted in November to permanently expel him from their ranks.
In the wake of the sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, the Academy voted in November to permanently expel him from their ranks. Wikimedia Commons

“The watershed events of the past months gave new urgency for us to revisit and revise these ethical guidelines, leaving no doubt as to the conduct and the behaviours the Television Academy expects from its leadership, members and staff. Below, we are providing a link to the revised Code of Conduct that was recently approved by your Board of Governors. Please give it a thorough read.

“The Television Academy is also proud to be participating as a member of a new industry organisation, the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.

Also Read: Google to nurture youth in technology through it’s 3-day India summit

“Like the Motion Picture Academy, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) and other members of the Commission, we are committed to achieving and supporting safer, more equitable and accountable workplaces.

Our revised Academy guidelines make clear that we expect nothing less from Academy leadership, members and staff than respectful conduct and behaviours that foster and maintain environments free of disruption, abuse, discrimination and harassment of others – during and outside of Academy events. This Code of Conduct is an acknowledgement that all of us share the responsibility for upholding a positive, professional, inclusive and supportive environment for our Academy business and member activities.” (IANS)