Masdar News

Fifth annual WiSER Forum highlights digitalization’s role in female empowerment

14 Jan 2020

The Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy platform has a mission to promote the inclusion of women within the sustainability sector.
The 2020 Forum, attended by dignitaries including H.E. Armen Sarkissian, President of Armenia, saw interesting discourse about the role that digitalisation and future technologies will play in empowering women. 

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; January 16, 2020: Masdar, one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies, hosted its fifth annual Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) Forum on Tuesday January 14 at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2020.

This year, the forum focused on digitalisation, artificial intelligence and the new digital economy, exploring the opportunities and challenges the sustainability industry faces in ensuring female inclusion, through an expert panel and an engaging roundtable discussion session. 

The forum was attended by Shaikha Shamma bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, CEO of Alliances for Global Sustainability, H.E. Suhail Mohammed Al Mazuei, Minister of Energy and Industry, H.E. Maryam Saeed Hareb Al Mehairi, Minister of State for Food Security, Homaid Al Shimmari, Mubadala Deputy Group CEO and Chief Corporate & Human Capital Officer, Franceso La Camera, Director General, IRENA, H.E. Dr. Nawal Al Hosany, IRENA Permanent Representative for the UAE, H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, H.E. Dr. Maryam Matar, Chairperson, UAE Genetic Diseases Association, Ismail Abdulla, CEO, STRATA, H.E. Rym Abdulla Al Falasy, Secretary General Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood,  H.E. Noura Al Suwaidi, Director of the General Women’s Union, Abdulaziz Al Mulla, Founder and CEO of Madar Farms, H.E. Eng. Fatima Al Foora Al Shamsi, Undersecretary, Ministry of Energy and Industry.

H.E. Armen Sarkissian, the President of Armenia, delivered the opening remarks, highlighting the important role that women play in sustainability: “Women are the best kept secret of the potential of humanity. You are the ones that are sustaining our families and our children, our culture and language. By your nature, you are sustainable. If we can harness this know-how, the thousands of years of building sustainable family relations, we take technology forward.”

The forum featured a high-level panel moderated by Dr. Mark Esposito, Member of the Teaching Faculty of Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education and Co-founder of Nexus Frontier. The panellists included: H.E. Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Science, H.E. Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment for Rwanda, and Ms. Gauri Singh, Deputy Director General, IRENA. 

“We need to change the foundation and provide the right role models, provide the right subtle messages that exist in our daily lives that technology and social media carry and ensure that these inherent biases no longer exist in the next generation,” said H.E Sara Al Amiri, “That is one of the ways to transform the whole issue of not talking about gender bias. 

H.E. Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya said: “When you talk about the development of technology and ICT, you have to make sure that men and women, girls and boys are part of that development. We have a saying in Rwanda: When you educate a woman, you educate the nation.” 

“With sustainability, the narrative really has to change at the grassroots level, [In India] we are witnessing very strong leadership coming from women leaders,” said Ms. Gauri Singh.

Linda Fitz-Alan, Registrar and Chief Executive of Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts, delivered the partner remarks: “ADGM has been an active participant in the UAE Gender Balance Council, which integrates women into key roles for national leadership. We strictly apply the tenets of the UAE national equality law, which guarantees women the same constitutional rights as men. In its core function as a magnet for international trade in Abu Dhabi, ADGM is committed to attracting businesses that share these same gender-equity goals. Many hurdles remain, and good words must be followed by more good deeds. We are at the beginning of our journey, not the end, but we are gaining momentum, and there is reason for optimism.” 

WiSER and ADGM announced a year-long partnership on Tuesday 14 January, which will see them collaborating on a host of events, with ADGM taking an active role in the WiSER Pioneers Programme and given the opportunity to host events under the WiSER brand.

Delivering the welcome remarks, Dr. Lamya Al Fawwaz, Executive Director of Brand & Strategic Initiatives at Masdar, and WiSER Programme Director, highlighted the crucial role that digitalisation can play in the empowerment of women: “Embracing digitalization and harnessing the benefits it can bring will be critical to achieving gender parity – which in turn will help us to create sustainable societies and achieve all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The time to act is now: we need to work together to ensure that we all benefit equally from the opportunities created in the new digital economy.”

In addition to a panel discussion, participants had the opportunity to discuss one of four topics exploring women in the technology industry, the impact of artificial intelligence on women in providing employment opportunities, the barriers that women face in the workplace and the importance of giving young girls equal opportunities from a grassroots level. 

Key insights shared included the importance of positive role models, government support is crucial to achieving gender balance and more awareness is required to ensure that young girls are aware of the opportunities in the technology sector. 

The Department of Energy, Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Power Corporation and its operating companies also served as partners for the forum.

The annual Forum is the flagship event of the WiSER platform, kicking off the year-long WiSER Pioneers programme, which provides young women with training and development opportunities.

The WiSER platform was officially launched on the side-lines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 by Masdar and the Zayed Sustainability Prize, at the time known as the Zayed Future Energy Prize.


About Masdar
Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, Masdar is advancing the commercialization and deployment of renewable energy, sustainable urban development and clean technologies to address global sustainability challenges. Wholly owned by Mubadala Investment Company, the strategic investment company of the Government of Abu Dhabi, our mandate is to help maintain the UAE’s leadership in the global energy sector, while supporting the diversification of both its economy and energy sources for the benefit of future generations. Masdar’s renewable energy projects are located in the UAE, Jordan, Mauritania, Egypt, Morocco, the UK, Serbia and Spain.

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About WiSER
WiSER is a Masdar-led impact-focused platform dedicated to inspiring women and girls to play an active role in addressing global sustainability challenges. WiSER stands for ‘Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy’. The WiSER platform was officially launched on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s Renewable Energy Company, and the Zayed Sustainability Prize (ZSP) founded the platform, which is focused on the three core pillars of education, engagement and empowerment. WiSER strives to position women and girls of all nationalities as drivers of change and innovation, while ensuring that their voices are heard across the sustainability debate – whether on issues of policy, technology or business.