From Uche Usim, Abuja

Women In Energy Network (WIEN), has received robust support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-Power Africa Initiative to deepen women empowerment in science and technology related fields and also help in boosting activities aimed at tackling climate change.

To this end, USAID-Power Africa, through Women in Africa Power (WIAP) network and the Nigeria Power Sector Programme (NPSP) recently conducted a training for WIEN members, which centred on Sustainability Roadmap Methodology.

This involved a comprehensive and systematic approach to assessing financial sustainability, and to plan for future sustainability.

The roadmap of the training, according to the Consultant, Elizabeth Ngonzi, included both narrative information and worksheets designed to enable WIEN members examine their current and future financial needs; consider a variety of revenue sources, both traditional and nontraditional; and to assess each based on the Network’s philosophy and capacity.

“The methodology consisted of three components: an assessment of expenses, an assessment of revenues, and the development of a sustainability plan. Each component uses specific tools, primarily spreadsheets, designed and refined for this process, along with guided discussions with the consultant”, Ngonzi stated.

Responding, WIEN President, Mrs Funmi Ogbue described the USAID-Power Africa support as timely and engaging, especially now that her Network recently unveiled the ‘WIEN Supernova Girl’ initiative through which primary and secondary schoolgirls, especially those in rural areas, are sensitised, mobilised, inspired and guided to take special interest in courses of study that will prepare them for great roles in a rapidly changing world.

She thanked Ngonzi for facilitating the development of the WIEN sustainability plan and the journey map for the next two to three years that will see women taking action to support initiatives that will close the huge gender gap and energy gap in our country.

According to Ogbue, the WIEN Bille Supernova Girl Scholarship Programme and Science Fair was conceived to provide a grand inspiration programme for girl children with keen interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

“As we are all aware, the world is on a highway towards urbanization, digitization and automation. Our lives will irreversibly follow patterns that will be determined, facilitated and controlled by science and technology. Our traditional and cultural lifestyles are falling behind, permanently displaced by innovation; and our roles are fast changing in a manner that dismantles gender borders. “Therefore, our children, especially our daughters must be prepared for a world that is waiting for them: their intellect, skills and talents”, Ogbue explained.

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The WIEN President added that the capacity of the educated woman was of strategic social and economic importance to any country, adding that her Network reckons that female population of any country forms the bedrock of sustainability; and countries of the world with a significant number of well educated women in strategic positions are the fastest developing ones.

While appreciating that all forms of education remain important, Ogbue expressed concerns about the poor percentage of female students pursuing science and technical studies.

“The situation is clearer in our tertiary institutions where the population of female students in science, engineering and technical courses is traditionally lower than that of their male counterparts.

“The domination of science, technical and engineering courses by the male students directly translates into a real industry labour situation. Today, energy, manufacturing, construction, mining, and other industries that demand skilled professionals are dominated by men; creating enclaves lack the rare qualities associated with the female gender. The situation has also morphed into huge gender imbalance and workplace bias that tend to further limit growth of qualified women into industry leadership positions.

“That is why the Bille Supernova Girl Scholarship Programme was conceived to be a special intervention in this direction. It is not just encouraging the education of girls in the country, especially in the rural areas, it is also deliberately focused on early exposure of female pupils to science education with the intentions of sparking the thrill and zeal for innovative thinking”, she added.

According to Ogbue, a recent WIEN employee survey showed that more work needs to be done to increase women participation in the oil and gas space.

“In the engineering field, we have 9.30% of women participating in it. There is zero number of women involved in geosciences. But in Corporate services, women make up 30.23%; in finance 9.30%, operations 9.30%, management 9.30%, logistics 2.33%, technical services provider 4.65%, non-technical service provider 9.30%”, she revealed.

Ogbue assured that WIEN will boost the number of women in the petroleum sector in view of their robust place in the economy.

WIEN was established in 2020 to provide a platform for women that work across the energy industry value chain; to network and build confidence and links to progress their careers or businesses. The core values are Excellence, Integrity, Collaboration and Empowerment.