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Womens’ role in cooling – a global issue

BANGKOK: Maintaining work-life balance, limited career advancement opportunities, lack of female colleagues and lack of access to training, are some of the challenges faced by women in the cooling sector.

These were some of the take aways from the first “women in cooling forum” organised by the UNEP OzonAction at this week’s forty-fourth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.

The forum initiated a discussion about the context of women in cooling worldwide including the challenges they face in their careers, previewed an important global survey on this subject, and presented a new global initiative to support opportunities for women, more engagement and visibility within the cooling sector. 

The side event was part of a broader discussion that UNEP OzonAction is having both internally and with its partners on how to further incorporate gender mainstreaming into the work of the Montreal Protocol. The meeting was well attended by 93 participants, 55 of whom were female. 

The quality of the workforce, including its skill level and technical capacity, is essential for introducing new environmentally-friendly technologies that enable national compliance with the Montreal Protocol. However, as is known, women are largely underrepresented in this field and have the potential to contribute significantly to the success of the RACHP sector, including environmental protection. 

Jim Curlin, UNEP OzonAction head of branch, gave a short overview of how OzonAction is including gender considerations in its own work and the specific services it is developing with its various partners. Participants heard about the context and the challenges that women in the field are facing from Dr Ina Columbo, deputy director-general of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR). She presented the preliminary results of the first Global Survey of Women in RACHP, which are based on inputs received from 810 women worldwide. 

Steve Gill, founder of the World Refrigeration Day, presented solutions and opportunities to advance women’s engagement in the cooling sector that will be offered through the newly-established International Network of Women in Cooling (INWIC).

These presentations were followed by a panel session of national ozone officers from different regions. Those involved included Bitul Zulhasni (Indonesia), Yvette Boko (Benin), Roselyn Bue (Vanuatu), Dr Marissa Gowrie (Trinidad & Tobago) and Amalia Nangolo (Namibia), who provided their views on both challenges and opportunities to women in the RACHP field in their countries. 

The ensuing exchanges revealed that the main challenges that women in this sector are facing are maintaining work-life balance, limited career advancement opportunities, stereotypes about women working in the field both from company owners and from the customers, lack of female colleagues and lack of access to training. Some of the opportunities were identified (many of which will be offered through INWIC) including networking, exchange of information and capacity building for women RACHP professionals, both through mentorship and internship platforms.

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