Strengthening Gender Equality and Increasing Women’s Participation in the Ethiopian Power Sector

Could on-site childcare facilities boost performance at a national power utility by creating a better workplace for women? Meazagenet Tsegaye at the Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU) strongly believes so. As the Acting Head of the Women and Children’s Affairs Department, Ms. Tsegaye’s mission is to advance gender equality within the electricity distribution company. Now, she and EEU have teamed up with Power Africa and the World Bank to explore ways to effectively integrate gender considerations into daily business operations, including provision of on-site child care.

Ms. Meazagenet Tsegaye, Acting Head of Women and Children’s Affairs Department, Ethiopian Electric Utility. Credit: Anna Wikman

The EEU has 12,083 employees, of which only 2,502 are women. Only 13 percent of female employees hold senior management positions (3 of 23). However, if the utility expects to meet its goal of serving 7 million customers by 2025, more than double its current base, EEU will need to recruit and retain the nation’s best talent, both male and female.

The utility has identified several priority initiatives that can help attract and keep female employees. In fact, EEU recently adopted a Gender Mainstreaming Policy and Procedure, which is informed by broader national commitments on gender equality. Policy goals in the utility include increasing the number of women in decision-making positions by addressing institutional barriers to their advancement, and developing a pipeline of female talent at all levels of the institution. There is also a commitment to ensure that the necessary policies and mechanisms are put in place to address women’s grievances if they experience any form of discrimination in the workplace, including gender-based violence.

To support the EEU in the implementation of their policy, Power Africa undertook a mapping exercise to identify any remaining gaps and challenges. A resulting Action Plan highlighted below translates EEU’s policy into actionable interventions designated to specific department heads within the company. It is envisioned that the Plan will be implemented by EEU Senior Management under the guidance and leadership of the Acting Head of the Women and Children’s Affairs Department. To support the implementation efforts the World Bank is working closely with EEU staff in-country, supporting the delivery of actions through technical assistance and is hiring a gender expert to capacitate the Women and Children’s Affairs Department to achieve its goals. This work has been supported through the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) Africa Gender and Energy program.

Priority activities outlined in the Action Plan aim to turn policy into practice by:

Policy Actions

  • Increasing awareness of the Gender Mainstreaming Policy and Procedure and the role of the Women and Children’s Affairs Department
  • Strengthening internal policy frameworks and other key internal documents for gender responsiveness

Institutional Actions

  • Applying gender-responsive budgeting
  • Applying gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation
  • Establishing on-site day care facilities

Capacity Building and Setting Targets on Employment Equality

  • Building the capacity of EEU employees on relevant gender-related issues
  • Supporting STEM education for female employees
  • Setting targets to increase the number of women recruited for i) employment and ii) decision-making positions

The EEU believes that a better work environment for women can help build a better power company for Ethiopia. This belief is bolstered by evidence that gender diversity plays a key role in organizational performance, efficiency, and success. With support from Power Africa and the World Bank, the EEU has an actionable plan to find and keep great female employees, integrate gender into business strategy, and contribute to the creation of a more empowered nation.

For further information on the Integrating Gender into EEU: A Mapping and Needs Assessment please contact:

Karen Stefiszyn — Gender and Energy Advisor, Power Africa Transactions and Reforms Program:

For further information on the gender and energy engagements of the World Bank in Ethiopia please contact:

Inka Schomer — Operations Officer World Bank, and; Anna Wikman — Consultant,

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