Kigali—On Wednesday October 7, 2020, the Women in Rwandan Energy Activity (WIRE), a two-year initiative implemented by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Power Africa East Africa Energy Project, established Rwanda’s first professional network for women in the energy sector. This professional network is called POWERHer.
POWERHer will be a fully independent non-profit organization with a mission of increasing the number of women—and women’s opportunity for leadership positions and influence—in the Rwandan energy sector. This newly established network has already brought together women working across the Rwandan energy sector: from executives, senior managers, engineers, technicians and field staff in public and private energy institutions.
POWERHer’s action plan includes networking events, a mentorship program, outreach to educational institutions to attract more female students into the sector, and public talks. It will also offer leadership, entrepreneurship and workforce development skills training programs to members. POWERHer network will open its doors to all young women graduates from various technical fields in the energy sector. These efforts will contribute to the achievement of gender equality in Rwanda, as enshrined in the constitution.
The 104 founding members of POWERHer held elections for leadership committees, and elected Nicole Mukwindi as President and Apophia Umutoni as Vice President. President Nicole Mukwindi said “Women are the minority in Rwanda’s energy sector and we work in a challenging environment where we face widespread negative gender stereotypes. Through POWERHer and its activities we will be able to change mindsets and attract more women into the sector and empower those who already have jobs to strive for leadership positions. We dream of a future where women feel welcomed in the energy sector and by standing together in POWERHer, will we make that dream a reality.”
Moving forward, USAID’s Women in Rwandan Energy Activity (WIRE) will support and strengthen the capacities of POWERHer through strategic global and national networking, training and outreach activities. In addition to POWERHer, WIRE will also continue its work with the government and the private sector to empower women in Rwanda’s energy sector. WIRE aims to support 1,400 women in their careers in the fast-growing energy sector and to advance gender inclusion in Rwanda’s journey of economic transformation.
USAID Mission Director Leslie Marbury congratulated the women of the POWERHer network and reiterated USAID’s support for women’s economic empowerment: “Around the world, USAID works to advance gender equality and believes that women should have equal access to academic and professional opportunities,” she said. “When men and women are equally represented in all parts of the economy, growth is more sustainable and just for all members of society. That is why we are supporting POWERHer through the Women in Rwandan Energy activity and wish it, and all the women in Rwanda’s energy sector, great success in the years ahead.”576