Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC)

Engendering Utilities Partner Profile

LEC is a state-owned utility that provides power to over 230,000 customers in Maseru and the area surrounding the capital. LEC employs over 500 people, of which 20 percent are women.

Over 70 percent of the urban population of Lesotho has access to electricity, but only 20 percent of the rural population has power. LEC’s Muela hydroelectric power station generates most of Lesotho’s electricity, but demand for power outpaces production, requiring Lesotho to import approximately 35 percent of its electricity. In 2003, the Government of Lesotho developed an energy policy which outlines the country’s goals for expanding access to renewable energy, especially in rural parts of the country. Engendering Utilities’ work with LEC will ensure women can capitalize on growing opportunities in Lesotho’s energy sector.

A complex web of contributing factors prevents women in Lesotho from joining the formal workforce, particularly the male-dominated energy sector. Lesotho has the world’s most extreme gender disparity in education, with more girls enrolled than boys. This is fueled by poverty and unemployment which causes significant numbers of boys and men to migrate out of the country, as well as the expectation that boys will withdraw from school to support cattle-raising. There are 1.6 girls for every boy enrolled in secondary school in the country, and more girls than boys enroll in tertiary programs. While more girls attend college than boys, they make up only 23 percent of graduates in STEM-related fields. Engendering Utilities is supporting LEC to consider and respond to factors that reduce women’s workforce participation by building inclusive policies and practices that benefit men, women, and businesses in the energy sector.

USAID is supporting LEC in its goal of increasing gender equality across the company’s business practices by providing change management coaching and leadership training, conducting a baseline assessment to identify gaps and opportunities for gender equality, and developing a strategic plan with LEC to facilitate the company’s gender equality goals.

USAID will support and accelerate gender equality initiatives at LEC as part of the broader strategic action plan, including:

  • Developing a Full Suite of Gender Equitable HR Policies, including a gender policy, an equal employment opportunity statement, and a comprehensive sexual harassment policy.
  • Strengthening Outreach to Vocational Schools to increase recruitment of women and hire more female electricians.
  • Committing to Gender Equality as a Strategic Objective, including formalizing concrete action plans and policies to mainstream gender equality across the utility’s business practices.

USAID’s Engendering Utilities program works with electricity and water utilities in developing countries to increase economic opportunities for women, improve gender equality, boost business performance, and strengthen the energy and water sectors. Through a customized best practices framework, demand-driven coaching, and a Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program, Engendering Utilities builds the capacity of utility leaders to implement gender equality interventions that increase the professional participation of women and meet their core business goals.

Launched in 2015, the Engendering Utilities program demonstrates USAID’s commitment to promote a path to self-reliance and resilience in developing countries by fostering enterprise-driven innovation, inclusive economic growth, and gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Engendering Utilities is a key activity under the U.S. Government’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), which aims to reach 50 million women by 2025 through innovative and effective programs.

Date 
Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 9:30pm

Last updated: August 12, 2020