US$1.4 million investment will help address gender imbalance in the country’s energy sector and improve energy access for marginalized communities
Abidjan, Ivory Coast: A coalition of five organizations are coming together to launch a unique initiative that will train 1,150 Ivorian women to access 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 create work 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) Initiative and 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. “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. “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 to contribute 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.”
“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. “The U.S. government believes in Côte d’Ivoire’s women and youth and is proud to invest in them.”
About Schneider Electric
Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the indisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software. In our global Ecosystem, we collaborate with the largest Partner, Integrator and Developer Community on our Open Platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency. We believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that our commitment to Innovation, Diversity and Sustainability ensures that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone and at every moment.
About the Mastercard Foundation:
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.
USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.
About the International Rescue Committee (IRC):
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.