West African executives have led a call to close the energy gender gap at the Vienna Energy Forum in June 2015. They were speaking at a networking event on Women for Sustainable Energy organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the ECOWAS Programme for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access (ECOW-GEN). ECOW-GEN coordinator Monica Maduekwe, presenting the #Standtall campaign, said its message needed to be “embedded in the hearts and minds of those who can change things in their countries and change the status quo.”
Maduekwe presented the accomplishments and aspirations of the campaign and noted it could not have been successful without the strong backing of individuals and organisations that have joined it and raised the banner for gender equality.
The event also provided an opportunity for others to introduce current women empowerment initiatives. Presenters included Ndey Bakurin, Executive Director of the National Environment Agency and Global Environment Facility Focal Point for the Gambia, Wandee Khunchornyakong, owner of the largest solar power company in Thailand who has received a U.N Momentum for Change Award and Elizabeth Cecelski, senior technical adviser at international gender advocacy and networking group Energia.
Speaking at a technical session entitled ‘Mutual Linkages: Sustainable Energy, Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women’ ECREEE Executive Director Mahama Kappiah highlighted the need for a gender-responsive approach to improving energy access in the ECOWAS region and outlined how the region was paving the way for gender equality in energy access.
One of the winners of the #Standtall campaign Youth Gender and Energy Writing competition, Chinonso Onah, attended the event with the financial support of the World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Program. He discussed gender inequality issues in Nigeria and expressed his commitment to push the gender equality agenda as a ‘Standtaller’.
The networking event brought together about 125 people. Among them was Pradeep Monga, Director of UNIDO Energy Branch, Irene Muloni, Uganda Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Carolina Cosse, Uruguay Minister of Industry, Energy and Mines, Helen Hai, CEO Made in Africa Initiative and UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador and Christine Lins, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) Executive Secretary.
The ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access, validated and adopted at technical expert level, aims to close the gender gaps in the energy sector by solving the root causes of gender inequality to ensure the achievement of the region’s goal for universal energy access.