USAID SARI-Energy What We Do
The South Asia Women in Energy Executive Exchange:
Efficient Energy Management and Renewable Energy
SAWIE Banner


“South Asian Women in Energy” (SAWIE) is a program created by under the South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy (SARI/Energy), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to bring together women energy sector professionals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to understand, identify and develop sustainable approaches to providing low-cost efficient energy to poor women and men in rural and urban areas throughout the region.

USEA organized and conducted an executive exchange in Washington, DC, May 12 – 20, 2009 for twelve SAWIE executives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to review energy efficiency, renewable energy, resource management, social and gender mainstreaming, and community development.

The USAID/SARI/Energy program promotes energy security in South Asia through three activities areas:
(1) cross border energy trade, (2) energy market formation, and (3) regional clean energy development. Through these activities, SARI/Energy facilitates more efficient regional energy resource utilization, works toward transparent and profitable energy practices, mitigates the environmental impacts of energy production, and increases regional access to energy. SARI/Energy countries include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.


The lack of access to clean energy – and often energy in any form – makes life extraordinarily difficult for many women in South Asia. Household chores become far more labor-intensive, taking time from women that could be better spent on family life or income-generating activities. And daughters may be taken out of school to help their mothers with chores, virtually guaranteeing the perpetuation of poverty for future generations of women.

The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) South Asia Regional Initiative/Energy (SARI/Energy) program is working to change this situation through its South Asia Women in Energy (SAWIE) activity. Formed in April 2008, SAWIE exposes women to the opportunities available in pursuing a “green” agenda such as clean energy production through renewable and energy efficiency practices and techniques in homes and communities, the SAWIE network encourages women entrepreneurs to participate in the industrial and economic activities that are involved in the management and delivery of clean energy products and services.

In the short span of six months, USAID hosted two regional SAWIE workshops in Kerala, India in April 2008 and in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November 2009 for some of the key woman organizations, NGOs, government, and private agencies in South Asia. These workshops led to an executive exchange in Washington, D.C. to share ideas and best practices in the areas of energy conservation and efficiency utilized in the United States. For more information, see the SARI/Energy website at


USEA arranged for the SAWIE delegates to meet with their counterparts at U.S. energy companies and organizations to discuss efficient energy applications and conservation and the role of women in the energy sector, for models of potential application to the South Asia region.

Keynote remarks were provided by Ms. Michele Schimpp, Director, Office of Technology Support, Bureaus for the Middle East and Asia for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Ms. Schimpp welcomed the SAWIE delegation and emphasized the importance of access to clean and reliable energy to contribute to the life improvement for women and children everywhere. Ms. Schimpp also provided an overview of USAID’s programs in energy and the value in incorporating gender equity issues into all programs and not be held as separate, isolated efforts.


The SARI/Energy executives had the opportunity to share their passion for renewable energy and conservation with their female peers in the United States. Discussions focused on fostering personal and professional growth and leadership abilities within their communities, and strategies for effectively utilizing opportunities in the energy sector for a more sustainable environment and to promote an improved living standard for women and families. Additional specific outcomes of the exchange are listed below:

  • Pakistan initiated discussions for installation of pv and other renewable energy applications through The Stella Group.
  • The World Bank and The Stella Group are also assisting Bangladesh into researching the feasibility of solar installations for pump irrigation.
  • The Energy Management Center in Kerala, India has offered to assist in future development of the South Asia Women in Energy program and serve as host to a Regional Center. The Energy Management Center is currently reviewing ideas for green building designs and developing plans for training programs through a satellite office.
  • The SAWIE working groups met to develop initial proposals for the Regional Center’s mission statement, proposed activities, and other potential organizations with whom to form partnerships.

Ms. Reba Paul
Executive Secretary
Bangladesh Water Partnership Secretariat &
Joint Secretary and Gender Coordinator
Bangladesh Renewable Energy Society (BRES)

Ms. Farzana Rahman
Senior Investment Officer
Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL)

Ms. Deki Choden
Dy. Executive Engineer
Bhutan Electricity Authority

Ms. Tshering Choki
Field Coordinator
Royal Society for the Protection of Nature

Mr. Dharesan Unnithan
Energy Management Center, Kerala/India

Ms. Soma Dutta
Asia Regional Network Coordinator

Mr. Kama Krisha (observer)
Grameen Surya Bijlee Foundation

Miss Mariyam Asra
Officer (T)
Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment


Mrs. Tara Devi Shrestha
Rural Energy Advisor
Alternative Energy Promotion Centre /
Rural Energy Development Programme

Mrs. Rita Bhandary
Executive Director
Nepal Paper Crafts &
Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal

Ms. Syeda Ummekulsum Imam
Davis Energen Ltd.

Mrs. Rukhsana Zuberi
Pakistan Engineering Council

Ms. Badra Jayaweera
General Manager
Ceylon Electricity Board

Ms. Ekta Bhardwaj
Manager SARI/E
Small Grants Programme

Mr. Srinivasan Padmanaban
Director of SARI/Energy

Ms. Mercy K. Thomas
Regional Project Coordinator
South Asia Regional Initiative/Energy


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bhutan Country Presentation- Tshering Choki and Deki Choden
Efficient Energy Management and Renewable Energy- Rita Bhandary and Tara Shrestha
Energy Clinic, A Women Oriented Energy Conservation Programme- K.M. Dharesan Unnithan
Energy Efficiency Starts in the Home, Alliance to Save Energy- Kateri Callahan
Gender and Energy Issues in India and Beyond; Solutions: National and Regional- Dharesan Unnithan
IDCOL Renewable Energy Activities- Farzana Rahman
SAWIE Activities in Bangladesh- Reba Paul
SAWIE Developments in Pakistan- Senator Rukhsana Zuberi
SAWIE - The Growing Baby- Mercy Thomas, USAID

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ESMAP Gender & Energy Initiative- Adriana Eftimie and Vanessa Lopes
Global Warming, Carbon Trading and Opportunities for South Asian Countries- Professor Saifur Rahman
Mainstreaming Gender Equality in Infrastructure Projects- Nulifar Ahmad
SARI/Energy Small Grants Program- Ekta Bhardwaj
SAWIE-RCE: Review of Proposed Activities- S. Padmanaban

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fuel Resources Between Rural & Humanitarian Settings
The NEED Project (National Energy Education Development)- Mary Spruill
Renewable Energy Technologies, Policies and Finance- Judy Siegel
The Women's Refugee Commission's Fuel & Firewood Initiative: Opportunities for Cross-Application of Cooking

Friday, May 15, 2009

Building Technologies Program: Energy Efficiency Applications in the Home- Michael J. McCabe
Cooking With the Sun... Cheap, Clean and Forever
Role of Regulation in Development of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency- Mary Beth Tighe
Role of State Utility Commissions in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency- Betty Ann Kane
U.S. Department of Energy Wind Program Overview- Megan McCluer

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Pursuit of Federal Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities- Matt Gray
Stories and Themes Energy-Gender-Poverty World Energy Renewable Congresses- Barbara C. Farhar

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Energy Conservation in Pakistan PEC Purview- Senator Rukhsana Zuberi
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Public Information Programs
Group Work on Micro Finance and Income Generation
Role for Hydropower Partnership and Global Water Development- International Clean Energy Alliance- Debby Stone
Women in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation- Reba Paul

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jobs Through Exports- Diane Farrel, Export Import Bank of the Untied States
Renewable Energy at SMUD- Alice Perez
SMUD's Compact with the Customer- Alice Perez
Simplifying Solar- Rolanda Shine, Sun Edison

Participating Organizations
  • Alliance to Save Energy
  • Ameresco
  • The Cadmus Group
  • Covanta Power
  • Current Group
  • Energy and Security Group
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Duane Morris LLP
  • Electric Power Research Institute
  • Export-Import Bank of the United States
  • GE
  • International Clean Energy Alliance
  • Lighthouse Consulting Group, LLC
  • National Energy Education and Development Project
  • Tetra Tech
  • Pepco
  • Prokaushali Sangsad Ltd.
  • Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia
  • Rappahannock Regional Solid Waste Management Board
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District
  • Solar Cookers International
  • The Stella Group, Ltd.
  • SunEdison
  • University of Colorado
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Advanced Research Institute
  • Women’s Commission for Refugee Women & Children
  • Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment
  • The World Bank


Slideshow Image 1 Slideshow Image 2 Slideshow Image 3 Slideshow Image 4 Slideshow Image 5 Slideshow Image 6 Slideshow Image 7 Slideshow Image 9