Sustaining Gender Equity in the Energy Sector: 8 Steps to Strengthen Professional Women’s Network
Countries in East Africa are working to meet ambitious electrification goals. The Government of Rwanda aims to reach universal electricity access by 2024; Ethiopia hopes to do so by 2025. Power Africa is dedicated to increasing opportunities for women to benefit from and contribute to these ambitious goals.
Gender norms and stereotypes in East Africa often limit women’s participation in the male-dominated energy sector and constrain access to finance for female-owned and led enterprises. To counter these institutional biases, mentorship, training opportunities, and participation in professional associations and networks are key to advancing women’s career ambitions in male-dominated sectors, such as the power sector. Power Africa aims to strengthen women’s participation in the sector by creating and supporting professional women’s networks,
Creating Sustainable Women’s Networks
Women’s energy sector networks across Africa provide platforms for women to learn from and support one another as they pursue meaningful careers. While these networks provide career-advancing opportunities to their members, sometimes the networks themselves need a boost.
In 2021, Power Africa piloted a unique sustainability training for women’s energy-sector networks to help strengthen their foundations so that they can provide long-term mentoring, training, relationship-building, and professional growth opportunities for years to come.
Representatives from the women’s networks Ethiopian Women in Energy, POWERHer in Rwanda, and ActivateHER in Somalia participated in a three-month training to develop three- to five-year network sustainability plans. The networks assessed their organizational capacity and financial sustainability, explored options for generating revenue, and developed brand strategies.
Participants developed messaging that articulates how the services offered by women-led organizations align with the priorities of companies in the energy sector, as well as the national priorities of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Somalia. Through this training, participants learned how to demonstrate the business case for working with women-run energy enterprises, developed stakeholder engagement plans, and explored digital marketing strategies to create new business opportunities.
As part of the training, the International Social Impact Institute® shared its Sustainability Plan Framework with each of the networks, guiding them through a multi-step process to develop sustainability plans tailored to their unique needs:
- Conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis to determine your organization’s current state, which will enable you to determine its potential future direction.
- Develop a mission statement and vision based on the strengths and opportunities identified through the SWOT analysis.
- Identify goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound — to fulfill the mission statement. Once the goals are developed, create realistic timelines for accomplishing them, to increase the likelihood for success.
- Conduct a self-assessment to determine the stability of the organization with a focus on strategies, tools, and techniques to strengthen its governance, human resources management, and service delivery.
- Develop a budget for each SMART goal to ensure realistic achievement.
- Create a stakeholder engagement action plan to identify potential revenue sources.
- Develop marketing strategies and tactics to engage stakeholders both in person and virtually.
- Analyze and update the organization’s digital presence to ensure stakeholders are able to learn about the organization and access and pay for its services.
The training equipped participants with strategies that will enable them to create and manage energy-sector relationships, conduct research to better understand stakeholders’ needs, and develop stakeholder engagement plans.
“We are very sure that the package of knowledge we got from the training will bring more change not only to POWERHer Rwanda members but also to the Rwandan energy sector in general,” Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure, Rwanda Energy Group, Munyax Eco, MeshPower Ltd (Rwanda), and HOBUKA Ltd.