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Women energy professionals urged to mentor young colleagues

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
Mr Martin Eson-Benjamin (seated 2nd from right), Chief Executive of MiDA, and Professor Ellen Bortei-Doku Aryeetey (seated right), former Director of the Centre for Social Policy Studies at the University of Ghana, with some of the participants
Mr Martin Eson-Benjamin (seated 2nd from right), Chief Executive of MiDA, and Professor Ellen Bortei-Doku Aryeetey (seated right), former Director of the Centre for Social Policy Studies at the University of Ghana, with some of the participants

Women in leadership positions in the energy sector have been urged to collaborate and support the younger ones as a three-day Women in Energy Conference opens in Accra.

 The conference, which is the third in a series, has brought together professional women in the power sector to share ideas and identify solutions to the barriers women face in the sector.

Deliberations during the conference would centre around “Women in energy: collaborating to transform our sector”.

It is part of a gender and social inclusion agenda to increase women’s employment and decision-making in the energy sector.

It is also aimed at placing women in higher paying jobs to lead more gender-inclusive policies for women working in the utility facilities to create more equitable societies and drive at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is organised by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), with funding support from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Ghana Power Compact.

Through the $308 million Ghana Power Compact, which comes to an end in June 2022, the MCC has invested in programmes aimed at creating opportunities for women to pursue and achieve their professional aspirations in a male-dominated field.

Among others, the programmes have led to policy development and strengthening of institutional capacity in power utilities, and created a pipeline for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to enter careers in energy and create more leadership positions for women.

Gender equality

The Chief Executive Officer of MiDA, Mr Martin Eson-Benjamin, urged female employee associations of organisations in the energy sector to work towards pushing for gender equality and women in leadership positions to enable both women and men to contribute to productivity and the effectiveness of the sector.

Women in the energy sector, he said, must learn from and work with one another.

He expressed optimism that the conference would deepen participants’ understanding of the challenges and the approaches towards a more enduring solution.

Over the years, he said, the conference had offered women the opportunity to share their experiences on how to grow and develop skills to motivate others.

Additionally, he said, MiDA had developed and shared with participants, a strategy document to guide female employee associations to manage and grow their associations.

Consumers to managers

The former Director for the Centre for Social Policy Studies at the University of Ghana, Prof. Ellen Bortei-Doku Aryeetey, said women used to be consumers of energy but were now producers and managers in the energy sector while they occupied various positions in the sector.

She said the crucial roles played by women to make the sector effective were now being recognised.

To move the sector to the next level, she said it would require men and women in the sector to cooperate and draw on each other's strengths by not being constrained by gender stereotyping but focusing on their various skills.

"If the men succeed, we succeed. What they can do, we can do,” she said.

She also urged female associations in the sector to collaborate and operate as a collective voice for women in the sector.

She advised women associations to strive to gain entry into male-dominated professional associations such as the Institute of Engineering.

"We must support our members to prepare for entry examinations by supporting with preparatory classes," she said

In a speech read on his behalf, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Energy, Mr Lawrence Apaalse, commended the MiDA Gender and Social Inclusion Unit for taking keen interest in women in the energy sector and supporting many young graduates through the internship and mentoring programme.

The programme, he said, had encouraged young women to be interested in pursuing STEM courses, which would increase the number of female STEM professionals in the nation.

"This conference is a great tool to tackle the challenges at the mid-career level, and by the end of the conference, women already in the energy sector will be equipped with skills necessary to make more positive impact, and hence give a greater voice in their workplaces," he said.