How will Kosovo benefit from the Women in Energy Program?
Millennium Foundation Kosovo has put several activities under our Gender and Social Inclusion cross-sectorial considerations, under a single “umbrella” of a project we named Women in Energy. The idea was have an integrated approach of both helping greater inclusion of women in energy sector, but also help energy demand of women-owned businesses.
What are the numbers behind Women in Energy activities?
- 420 women entrepreneurs were supported with circa 2 million euros to grow their businesses through efficient use of energy and energy savings.
- 230 women engaged as interns in energy-related companies for six months with the aim to boost their potential for employment in the energy sector by providing them on-the-job experience – Over 30% of them are nor hired with regular contracts after finishing their internship.
- 26 women awarded as scholarship recipients with the objective to provide highly specialized technical training to prepare them for anticipated market needs and help Kosovo develop the workforce needed to sustain new energy investments – 92% of them are now hired, upon return, in the energy sector in Kosovo.
In rough numbers, this is how Kosovo has benefitted from the Women in Energy Program, implemented by Millennium Foundation Kosovo (MFK) and supported by Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Why Women in Energy?
During the development of MFK threshold activities, the low participation of women in the labor market, and in the energy sector in particular, was identified as a crosscutting concern that could limit the equitable participation of Kosovar citizens in the benefits of MFK investments in the energy sector.
The social and gender assessments conducted during development of the MFK Social and Gender Integration Plan revealed that in all eight of the business sectors that account for 95% of the energy businesses across the country, employment in all was dominated by men, especially in the electricity, gas, steam, air conditioning supply, construction, transportation, and storage sectors (MCC, Kosovo LFTUS 2017).
Virtually all of the private and public sector energy organizations contacted during the project development noted difficulty in hiring qualified women in technical, professional, or managerial roles due to the lack of candidate applications.
Consequently, Women in Energy was established as a unified effort to conduct a series of proactive measures to increase the participation of women in the energy sector through education and on-the-job experience, and to encourage women entrepreneurs to take advantage of new energy technologies. The overall effect of our activities and outreach elements promoting these activities was also to increase women’s awareness of opportunities in the energy sector, to empower women entrepreneurs through energy solutions, to provide on-the-job and other relevant training in order to increase the pool of technically skilled women willing to work in energy-related jobs, and to build linkages between energy employers and qualified women candidates.
Benefits of Women in Energy Program in Kosovo
The benefits of Women in Energy Program in Kosovo are scattered in different levels for each WE activity, starting from personal professional development to increased social awareness nationwide.
420 women-owned businesses have increased their productivity and efficiency with the advanced energy solutions provided by our grants. Here are some stories:
- Through installation of solar panels, a woman entrepreneur and her women staff in Zubin Potok now have access to hot water and functioning refrigerator for their food products which was not the case due to unreliable energy supply.
- Through installation of heating system and building insulation, a woman entrepreneur in Podujeve and her women employees now can work productively during all seasons in their factory. Through the purchase of energy efficient equipment and other energy efficiency measures energy, women entrepreneurs not only have reduced the cost of electricity but also business has increased production or work with much higher efficiency
- 230 women were given the opportunity to work as interns in the biggest energy companies in Kosovo and over 30% of them were hired afterwards as engineers, researchers, project leaders in energy.
In a broader national level, Women in Energy Program has had an impact in the behavioral change of the society and increased social awareness. Through massive campaigns asking women to join the energy sector, continuous promotions of the success of our WE beneficiaries, incessant outreach to energy companies in Kosovo to hire women, and loud advocation for women inclusion in the energy sector, WE has managed to increase the social awareness towards the capacity of women as strong actors in the energy sector. In addition, following the success of WE, many organizations and institutions have started designing and implementing alike projects aiming to empower women in the energy sector.
In a more personal statement, as the CEO of MFK, I am proud to be witnessing a structural personnel change in the energy sector with our interns and scholarship recipients filling the spots that were once taken by men.
I am thankful of the institutions/organizations appreciating the success of the program and directing their resources to engage in similar projects. I am foremost happy that the Kosovar society is seeing and will be seeing women in the fields as energy engineers, and not call it an anomaly.
I’m also very happy that on July 1st 2022, MCC Board has approved the Compact for Kosovo to the tune of almost 240 million USD. A number of activities are focused on labor force development and gender inclusion. These activities planned for the following five years are based on the incredible experience gained during Threshold implementation of the last five years. The team at MFK as well as our partnering organizations ensured that Women in Energy doesn’t remain just as a brand and a single project but rather a long term dedication to bridging the gap between men and women in this important sector of our economy.