Women in Energy Forum 2024: Minister Nankabirwa calls for gender inclusiveness in energy sector

The Minster of Energy, Hon Ruth Nankabirwa speaking at the 2024 Women in Energy Forum at Golf Course Hotel on Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Kampala, (UG):- The Minister for Energy and Mineral has given a rallying call to stakeholders in the energy sector to consider gender equity and inclusion as fostering impact to enable women in the industry to connect, learn and collaborate.

The minister revealed this while speaking at “The 2024 Women in Energy Forum” dinner held at Golf Course Hotel, in Kampala, organized by the Electricity Regulatory Authority and development partners to highlight the importance of uplifting women to accelerate progress in the energy sector.

Ms Nankabirwa said the initiative launched should focus on promoting and supporting women to grow and keep in the energy sector and see a sustainable network of women integration to grow the women’s network in the lucrative and fast-developing energy sector.

“I support reaching out from rural areas because we have seen people who have come from some progressive high schools somewhere and they have made it. We should widen, identify female leadership in these institutions, and create a network,” Ms Nankabirwa said, adding that the female leaders should be given principles that can guide them throughout their career, other than general technicalities.

The minister also advocated for time to speak to the women and young mothers, to understand the challenges they’re faced with, which might be clocking their path and penetration in the energy sector.

According to the Minister, the more women feel shy about not performing, the more their dignity declines. She, therefore, challenged them to stand out in positions of leadership, and promised to work with development partners to see the project funded to excellence.

“I will work with the regulatory body (ERA) and my ministry to look for partnerships so that we can widen this project. There are many women up there who would like to put investment in such programs and projects (women in energy and extractives, women in sensitive services,” Ms Nakanbirwa stressed.

Minister Ruth Nankabirwa speaking at the 2024 Women in Energy Forum at Golf Course Hotel on Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The minister also vowed to regulate positions in the energy sector to see that top positions which are currently occupied by females are retained by fellow women, other than being passed on to the male officers.

“Any position which is being held by a woman in this office, and the tenure ends, I cannot replace a woman by a man, not me,” Nankabirwa said

“If the chairperson of ERA Board is a lady and your term ends, it would be abominable for me to replace her with Tom or Fred,” she added.

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The forum, under the theme; “A Working Strategy to Address Gender Disparities in the Energy Sector,” provided a platform for participants to discuss and exchange ideas on how to promote gender equality within the energy industry.

L to R: ERA Board Chairperson Dr Sarah Wasagali Kanaabi, Minister Ruth Nankabirwa and ERA CEO Eng Ziria Waako Tibalwa at the 2024 Women in Energy Forum at Golf Course Hotel on Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Speaking at the same event, Mr Joseph Kapika, a Senior Energy at World Bank also advocated for gender equality and empowerment of women saying empowered women contribute largely to achieving Sustainable Development Goals and the country’s economic growth at large.

“When women are empowered to lead, everyone benefits,” Mr Kapika said. “Transparent gender statistics are essential for tracking progress and strengthening gender-inclusive policies,” he added.

The forum also saw several scholars, women CEOs and students engage in panel discussions on various critical issues and proposed detailed strategies to address these career guidance gaps effectively:

Some of the schools and institutions that took part in the discussions include; Makerere Unversity, Uganda Christian University, Busitema University, St. Mary’s College, Mengo S.S., and Kibuli SS among others.

Some of the students who took part in the panel discussions on the afternoon

One common demand echoed by the students was the need for government-led initiatives to encourage and motivate young women to pursue challenging courses in the sciences. They emphasized that increased support and resources from the government were vital in enabling them to fulfil their aspirations in these demanding fields.

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The students also emphasized the importance of media representation, suggesting that increased visibility of women in energy through various media channels would serve as an inspiration for young girls. By featuring successful women leaders in the sector, the media could create relatable role models for aspiring female professionals.

The event concluded with a call for collaborative efforts among government institutions, private sector entities, and civil society organizations to remove barriers and create an inclusive environment that allows women to thrive in the energy sector.

The participants expressed their commitment to implementing the strategies discussed during the forum and working towards a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable future for Uganda’s energy industry.

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