1,150 Ivorian women accessed work opportunities in the energy sector. A coalition of five organizations to launch a unique initiative that will train 1,150 Ivorian women to occupy dignified work opportunities in the country’s energy sector. Schneider Electric and its Foundation, the Mastercard Foundation, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have announced a US$1.4 million initiative that will creatework opportunities in the Ivory Coast’s energy sector for 1,150 women. The program, which is named “Projet de Renforcement des Opportunités pour les Jeunes (PRO-Jeunes women energy program)”,will be partly funded through a US$500,000 commitment from USAID under the U.S. government’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiativeand will be run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
The initiative builds on an earlier partnership between the IRC, Mastercard Foundation, and Schneider Electric to train 1,250 electricians, 60 percent of whom were women, through four vocational training centers throughout the Ivory Coast over a five-year period. This new initiative will include the extension of the training program to a new training center in Abidjan, which is located in the city of Ferkessédougou, north of the Ivory Coast.
“The Ivory Coast is a success story when it comes to access to energy, with close to 94 percent of Ivorians being connected to the power grid,” said Laurent Roussel, Cluster President French Speaking Africa & Islands at Schneider Electric.
Also added, “While this is in itself a significant achievement, we’ve got to ensure that more women are involved in the industry so that half of the country’s population have a say in energy policy, pricing, and access to energy-related matters.”
The Ivory Coast’s energy sector is growing at a rapid pace.The country’s economy will require 6,000MW by 2030, 50 percent higher than the country’s current capacity. The country is also looking to play a role in the wider West Africa region, by exporting energy to its neighbors. The PRO-Jeunes women energy program will help to improve energy access for marginal communities as well as increase employment opportunities for Ivorian women in this rapidly expanding industry.
“Increasing employment opportunities for women is a win for women and a win for the Ivoirian economy,” said U.S. Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Richard Bell.
He commented, “An abundance of international data confirms that the organizational effectiveness – from a small business to national government level – increases when women are significantly represented.”
The 1,150 women will undergo a six-month training course that’ll equip them with the skills needed to be employed as sales personnel, professional electricians, and “last mile” technicians as well as enable them tocontribute to the country’s national goal of universal energy access by 2025. The training will also address gender-based barriers that prevent women from participating in an industry that is primarily dominated by men and will offer an entrepreneurship component to support them in entering the labor market.
“This initiative is about equality and improving the lives of young women. But it’s more than that. It’s a recognition that diversity in all its forms is critical to driving innovation and bringing new ways of thinking to solving old problems,” said Nathalie Akon Gabala, Regional Director, Western, Central and Northern Africa, Mastercard Foundation.
“I’m confident that the 1,150 women will not only have a significant impact on the energy sector, but they also will bring about meaningful change within their respective communities,” stated Nathaile Akon Gabala.
“An economically empowered woman can better invest in herself, her family, and her community, which has been proven to lead to a number of positive development outcomes,” said Dr. Nancy Lowenthal, USAID Country Representative in Côte d’Ivoire.
She added, “The U.S. government believes in Côte d’Ivoire’s women and youth and is proud to invest in them.”