Engendering Utilities Welcomes New Partners

More than 50 representatives from 17 power utilities in 14 countries convened in Amsterdam for the Engendering Utilities Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program in July 2019.
More than 50 representatives from 17 power utilities in 14 countries convened in Amsterdam for the Engendering Utilities Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program in July 2019.
Ryan Kilpatrick / USAID

USAID Expands Initiative to Increase Gender Equality in the Energy Sector

Nine new partner utilities from eight countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean represent a significant expansion of USAID’s Engendering Utilities program.

USAID’s Engendering Utilities, an innovative initiative to improve gender equality in the global energy sector, welcomed nine new partner utilities that are committed to unlocking economic opportunities for women in their organizations. These new partners represent a significant expansion of Engendering Utilities and builds on the success of the first cohort of utilities. Engendering Utilities now works directly with 17 partners in 14 countries.

By increasing women’s participation in the traditionally male-dominated energy sector, Engendering Utilities provides tangible women's economic empowerment outcomes, such as increased jobs and income. Better gender equality also helps utilities meet their core business goals by enhancing employee satisfaction, reducing turnover, and driving productivity. High-performing utilities are key to creating stronger and more resilient national energy sectors, which is critical for economic growth.

“Gender equality in the energy sector serves as a foundation for broader development gains,” said Mark Green, USAID Administrator. “Through Engendering Utilities, USAID and our partners are creating economic opportunities for women to prosper in their societies, which can boost business, lift economies, and empower nations on their path to self-reliance.”

The expansion of Engendering Utilities demonstrates the U.S. Government’s commitment to women’s economic empowerment. Engendering Utilities is a key activity contributing to the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, launched by the White House, which is the first-ever whole-of-government initiative focused on advancing women’s full and free participation in the global economy. By 2025, W-GDP aims to reach 50 million women through innovative and effective programs, such as Engendering Utilities.

A Unique Approach To Improving Gender Equality

Engendering Utilities’ unique approach involves implementation of evidence-based gender equality best practices. Through a customized best practices framework, demand-driven expert coaching, and a Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program, Engendering Utilities builds the capacity of utility leaders to identify critical gender equality gaps and implement interventions that directly increase opportunities for women within the company, and strengthen the utilities’ overall operations.

“The energy sector is a key factor for the economic and industrial development of a country and therefore needs an innovative approach,” said Ilir Shala, CEO of new partner utility Kosovë Operator Sistemi, Transmisioni dhe Tregu (KOSTT). “My message to other CEOs is that investing in advancing women in energy is not just right, but it's also smart.”

From July 8–12, 2019, more than 50 representatives from the 17 partner utilities convened in Amsterdam for the Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program. Developed by USAID and Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, the Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program delivers a best-in-class curriculum that spans the breadth of the employee life cycle. The course empowers partner utility employees—including administrators, operational area managers, and other key decision-makers—to effectively integrate gender equality initiatives within their corporate structure. The Amsterdam event was the first in-person session for the new utility partners, and provided post-graduation training for members of the first cohort.

Global Impact For Women In Energy

Partner utilities from the initial cohort, which launched in 2016, are recruiting, retaining, and promoting more female employees. In addition, all seven first-cohort utilities have adopted or refined Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies to create a more inclusive work environment. Engendering Utilities partners are also addressing pay inequity in their companies, and offering flexible work schedules and child care programs to support parents.

For example, Engendering Utilities partner EVN Macedonia became the first energy company in Macedonia to introduce flexible working hours. “This directly gives opportunities to women and men to better balance work life and family life, and pursue their personal goals and priorities,” said Stefan Peter, CEO of EVN Macedonia. “Engendering Utilities had a spillover effect in the energy sector and our community as it raises—and answers at the same time—the important question of equality and inclusion of women and the many benefits it brings for women themselves, the companies, and the society as a whole.”

Our New Partners

Engendering Utilities’ new partners represent Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. Learn more about each utility below.

Dominican Republic – Edesur Dominicana, S.A. (EDESUR)

EDESUR was formed in 1999 after the unbundling of the Dominican Electricity Corporation. EDESUR’s main functions are to distribute electricity throughout the southern part of the country. Of their 3,239 employees, around 37 percent are women. EDESUR is a regional leader in women’s representation at the leadership level, and their commitment to gender equality is further exemplified through its desire to more broadly improve women’s condition in the Dominican Republic. “EDESUR envisions being a national and international model in the distribution and commercialization of electricity,” said Radhames Del Carmen, CEO of EDESUR. “Consequently, we are interested in being a model of gender equity, in a way that we can inspire other companies in the sector.” Learn more

Ghana – Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo)

GRIDCo is Ghana’s transmission company and system operator. The company aims to promote competition in Ghana's wholesale power market by giving transparent, non-discriminatory, and open access to the National Interconnected Transmission System for all participants in the market. GRIDCo currently has over 900 employees, of which 15 percent are women. GRIDCo wants to prioritize increasing the number of women in technical staff, where there is the greatest gender disparity. Through Engendering Utilities coaching, the utility will develop a tailored action plan to best fit their needs. GRIDCo will also place a strong emphasis on engaging influential male leaders as champions of gender equality. Learn more

India – BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) in India

BRPL was formed in 2002 as a joint venture between Reliance Infrastructure Limited and the Government of NCT of Delhi. The company currently operates with a distribution area of 750 square kilometers in South and Western New Delhi, serving around 2.3 million customers. Of their 2,600 employees, only 12.5 percent are women. Most of these women are employed in corporate offices, serving customer service and support functions. However, in recruiting with gender-neutral job descriptions and advertisements, BRPL has built a strong representation of women in junior and mid-level roles. Recruitment and promotions are also carried out using knowledge and capability criteria, evaluating women on their performance, thought process, and knowledge as opposed to only assessing technical awareness or field experience, which can be challenging for women to accumulate in the current societal context. For about 20 percent of women promoted, this effort has resulted in accession to a senior role. Learn more

India – Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL)

TPDDL was formed in 2002 as a joint venture between Tata Power and the Government of NCT of Delhi. The company currently operates with a distribution area of 510 square kilometers in North and Northwest New Delhi, serving around seven million people. Of their 3,547 employees, only around 28 percent are women. TPDDL’s commitment to gender equality is exemplified through executive education programs, mentoring opportunities, and a Women’s Leadership League. TPDDL views Engendering Utilities as an opportunity to enhance its existing gender equality programs. Learn more

Kosovo – Kosovo Operator Sistemi, Transmisioni dhe Tregu (KOSTT)

Established in 2006, KOSTT operates the national electricity transmission and distribution system which also serves as an important transmission hub for Southeast Europe. Kosovo’s energy sector remains male-dominated. Kosovar women have the lowest employment rate for women in Europe, at 12.7 percent, and have historically had few opportunities outside of the education and health sectors. USAID is partnering with KOSTT through the Engendering Utilities program to assist in the development of their tailored action plan to incorporate gender equity into their business practices. KOSTT has identified specific areas for improvement, including the need to update their communications strategy and website to attract a more diverse talent pool, engagement of male champions for gender equality, and development of a gender equity policy. Learn more

Liberia – Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC)

LEC was established in 1973 to produce and supply economic and reliable electricity to the entire nation. By 1989, roughly 13 percent of the population was served, but electricity infrastructure was almost entirely destroyed during the civil wars. LEC currently serves over 49,000 residential customers and 500 commercial customers. Some key priorities and expectations LEC has in its participation include improving organizational performance and workplace culture with a strong emphasis on core corporate values and gender equality; effectively implementing their Sexual Harassment Policy; and integrating gender equality within succession plans. Learn more

Malawi – Electricity Generation Company Malawi (EGENCO)

Emerging from the restructuring of Malawi’s power market in 2017, EGENCO is a power generation company with plans to double generation capacity within the country in the next five years. Though women overall have high participation in the workforce, they are not well represented in Malawi’s energy sector. Women in Malawi also fare worse than men when it comes to wage equality, and they still face obstacles when seeking employment within traditionally male-dominated sectors, such as energy. USAID is partnering with EGENCO through the Engendering Utilities program to assist in the development of their tailored action plan to incorporate gender equity into their business practices. EGENCO is committed to improving gender equity and, prior to working with USAID and Engendering Utilities, developed and adopted a Gender and Social Inclusion and Anti-Harassment Policy. Learn more

Mozambique – Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM)

Mozambique’s electricity company since 1977, EDM services 29 percent of the country’s population. While women in Mozambique benefit from higher than average labor force participation (78.1 percent according to the International Labour Organization), they still face obstacles when seeking employment within traditionally male-dominated sectors, such as energy. USAID is partnering with EDM through the Engendering Utilities program to assist in the development of their tailored action plan to incorporate gender equity into their business practices. EDM is committed to improving gender equity and, prior to working with Engendering Utilities, had already incorporated gender as a key pillar of their overall business strategy. Learn more

Philippines – Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (LASURECO)

LASURECO is one of the electric cooperatives generating and distributing electricity in the Philippine island of Mindanao. The cooperative currently serves an area of 3,959 square kilometers, with around 51,400 customer connections. Of their 184 employees, only 29 percent are women. Prior to engaging with Engendering Utilities, LASURECO took the initiative to improve gender equality, most notable in women’s representation at the leadership level: LASURECO’s Chief Executive Officer is a woman, and five of eight senior managers are women. The utility also addresses sexual harassment in their code of ethics. A dedicated change management coach provided by the Engendering Utilities program is working with LASURECO to identify opportunities to improve its benefits offering and to hire more women into technical roles, with a goal of 50 percent representation. Learn more

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.

Last updated: October 15, 2019

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