A group of women from Net Zero World countries and the Department of Energy pose for a photo in a meeting room.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Director of International Science and Technology Collaboration Maria DiGiulian pose with women from Net Zero World countries at the first Climate Smart Women's Energy Leadership program in May 2023.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched its Net Zero World Initiative's Climate Smart Women Energy Leader’s (CS-WEL) program, which aims to empower women in partner countries by expanding their skills and resources to tackle climate change and promote a global clean energy transition.

Announced by Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm at COP27, the CS-WEL program was developed by DOE in conjunction with 10 national laboratories that make up the Net Zero World Initiative team. For the first phase of the initiative, CS-WEL brought together eight female energy leaders from Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Thailand, and two participants from Ukraine. The intensive training took place over two weeks at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and included topics such as clean energy analysis tools and data, advanced technology performance testing and validation, innovation and entrepreneurship, policy and deployment best practices, and finance mobilization. In addition, the participants had the opportunity to network and engage in leadership training.

Meet the Climate Smart Women Energy Leaders:

  • Ana Belén Ferrera, Senior Energy Analyst, Undersecretary of Electric Power, Secretary of Energy, Argentina
  • María José García Cabello, Senior Climate Change Analyst, Ministry of Energy, Chile
  • Perihan Amer, Diplomatic Attaché, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt
  • Faizatul Hasanah Z. Day, Sub-coordinator for Business Service of Various New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Indonesia
  • Oluwagbemisola Akinsipe, Research and Communications Associate, Nigeria Energy Transition Office
  • Onvara Vadhanavisal, Plan and Policy Analyst, Ministry of Energy MOEN, Thailand
  • Iuliia Perchuk, Director Reform Support Team, Ministry of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine
  • Yulia Rybak, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Energy of Ukraine

“These women represent the hope for a net zero world,” Secretary Granholm said during her remarks at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “I am so proud of this incredible group of women from across the globe who are answering the call to action."

To close out their training in the United States, the women presented work plans—designed to be integrated into their respective country’s Net Zero World Initiative’s work plans—that focused on accelerating energy system decarbonization goals. To support the women in implementing these plans, the program will provide ongoing coaching and mentoring as they move these projects forward.

“This program was designed to extend far beyond two weeks,” said Maria DiGiulian, director of International Science and Technology Collaboration at DOE. “The follow-on virtual webinar-style trainings will further solidify the technical knowledge gained, provide ongoing mentoring to these exceptional women leaders, and will cement the ties and allyship forged during this pivotal program.”

The CS-WEL program comes at a time when the world is seeing a significant underrepresentation of female leadership in the clean energy space. According to the International Energy Agency’s Gender and Energy Data Explorer, on average, there are 76% fewer women than men working in the energy sector - and this gender imbalance has been there from the beginning.

At COP26, only 34% of committee members were women. Yet, women’s participation can make a big difference when it comes to addressing climate change. As reported by the World Bank, women’s leadership in this area “is associated with better resource governance, conservation outcomes, and disaster readiness.” They are also “effective in pioneering community resilience, leading local management groups, protecting their communities against natural disasters, and in ministerial roles.”

"Each of these women surmounted significant obstacles to secure and complete the two-week training focused on developing leadership skills and technical capabilities to enhance the professional growth of women in the energy sector,” Victoria Azizova said, who helped co-organize the program’s events.

As the CS-WEL women return to their countries, Reshma Singh, who led the program, hopes its benefits will spread on a global scale.

“I am proud and inspired to be part of this impactful initiative, which will create momentum and visible change in our efforts to reach global decarbonization one country at a time,” she said.

“These eight women leaders are true champions who are driving forward clean energy transitions in their countries while empowering women from all segments of society to actively engage in creating a better world for everyone,” added Ron Benioff, executive director of the Zero World Action Center.

For more information about the Climate Smart Energy Women’s Leadership program, visit the Department of Energy’s website.