USAID is improving gender equality in the transitioning energy sector throughout Southeast Asia in order to advance women’s economic empowerment and strengthen energy institutions. 

Women are underrepresented in the workforce across Southeast Asia, particularly in male-dominated industries like the energy sector. As energy is a crucial driver of economic development, healthcare, education, and commerce, this disparity is more than an equity issue. It is a missed economic opportunity for countries, companies, and communities. Expanding women’s participation in energy-related fields can result in tangible economic empowerment, including prospects for formal employment and higher income.

The Enhancing Equality in Energy for Southeast Asia (E4SEA) Activity expands regional knowledge around gender equality in the energy sector to transform attitudes and eradicate biases. Based on best practices and resources developed by USAID’s Engendering Industries program, the E4SEA Activity partners with educational institutions and energy sector employers to attract and retain women through organizational change and leadership development initiatives.


Increasing numbers of women and girls pursuing energy sector careers

Many girls and young women who want to pursue careers in the energy sector either do not know where to begin or are discouraged by entrenched socio-cultural norms that limit gender roles.  E4SEA increases the awareness of energy-related career opportunities, aiming to reverse negative perceptions about women in energy sector jobs and increase internship and mentorship opportunities for women by equipping partner organizations with the tools to address the unconscious biases that prevail in the male-dominated sector.

Improving recruitment, retention, and promotion of women in energy 

Through E4SEA, USAID coaches energy sector employers to change organizational cultures and expand early career opportunities for women.  Using best practices, it partners with energy sector employers to implement interventions that help hire, promote, and retain women and engage men as active drivers of change within their organizations.

Strengthening internship and mentorship programs

E4SEA supports partner organizations, both tertiary-level educational institutions and energy companies, to increase workplace diversity by strengthening gender-inclusive energy internships for Southeast Asian students. It also partners with Thammasat University in Thailand on a regional mentorship program that can be further expanded by energy companies. To ensure sustainability beyond the life of the project, E4SEA provides tools, best practices, and networks so partners are able to continue these internship and mentorship programs on their own.


  • Partnered with seven energy companies and nine tertiary institutions in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand to implement interventions that help to hire, promote, and retain qualified women within energy workplaces.
  • Provided the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Course and coaching support to four partner energy companies to develop and implement Gender Equality Action Plans for the adoption of revised policies and best practices in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This included approaches for fair and unbiased recruitment, equitable opportunities for career development and training, pay equity, and promotion plans.
  • Conducted a Training of Trainers on Unconscious Bias to 17 organizations in four Southeast Asian countries to respond to the need for energy sector workplaces to challenge bias and welcome women as equal partners in a changing workforce. As a result, two partner companies institutionalized Unconscious Bias Training within their organizations.
  • Launched the pilot of Southeast Asia's first-ever Regional Energy Internship Program, in partnership with Thammasat University, placing 40 tertiary education students from six countries in ten energy companies across four Southeast Asian countries.
  • Prepared an Assessment of Women’s Participation in the Energy Sector in Southeast Asia Report that identified gaps regarding women in the energy sector in Southeast Asia and informed interventions to overcome them. Key findings included the need for women role models, the importance of mentorships as a tool for retention, and using internships for career entry to the sector.   
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