Date: 27.10.2021

Women in Energy Scholars becoming Women in Energy leaders

A blog written by Violeta Rexha Krasniqi, Gender and Social Inclusion Specialist at MFK, about the transformative Women in Energy Program, which has resulted in job creation and professional growth for Kosovan women in the energy sector.


Millennium Foundation Kosovo (MFK) has been dedicated to promote gender and social inclusion (GSI) across its Threshold activities, supported by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). MCC and MFK have robust GSI elements across all activities, as it considers GSI as quintessential for achieving reduction of poverty through economic growth.


MFK went a step further. We didn’t only add a GSI element to programing – we made GSI a central flagship activity through combining various sub-activities into a program called Women In Energy.


We took an innovative and holistic approach in women’s economic empowerment through energy. There are three major components of the Women in Energy (WE) program, namely Scholarships, Internships and Technical assistance and Grant incentives for Women Entrepreneurs.


Women in Energy is an activity designed to empower women and provide opportunities to address labor needs in the energy sector as well as the gender imbalance in the industry but also to empower women entrepreneurs through energy which offer solutions.


Low participation of women in labor market in Kosovo is a constraint. MFK and MCC have done in depth research into the issue. This problem is even bigger in energy sector. In Kosovo around only 7% of women make up the workforce in the energy sector. The relationship between women’s economic empowerment and energy, and exploration between these narratives have been limited until recently, although these are two well accepted narratives related to economic growth. Additionally, access to modern energy solutions and participation of women in the energy sector enables economic opportunities for women which is key towards gender equality.


The first activity MFK has launched was Women in Energy Scholarship Program. We have developed a special program of STEM and energy studies, tailored for Kosovo needs with Iowa-based college DMAAC. This Des Moines-based community college won the competitive process for academic provider, ensuring full academic, financial and social support for prospective Kosovan students.


While we had some doubts whether the field of energy would be interesting for women, it was clear from the onset that there will be a lot of interest to receive an opportunity to study in US.


From a large number of over 600 women applications, around 60 women were invited for the interview.   The process of selection of candidates was not easy at all. After three rounds of interviews and tests conducted, and after long and passionate discussion of panel members and their arguments for their high points for many candidates interviewed, MFK management, supported by MCC, decided to expand the offer from initial 5 intended scholarships to 28 full-fledged scholarships to study in DMAAC.


Selected candidates were from 15 municipalities all around Kosovo. The fields of the studies which were provided to the scholarship recipients were: wind energy, solar energy, coal energy, computer numerical controls, water management, information technology, energy efficiency/auditing, energy regulation, energy-related software’s/SCADA systems, energy management, and other related fields.


How do we measure the success of the Women in Energy Scholarship program? There are indicators in monitoring and evaluation, but the most impressive information is that, after only 6 months of their return from graduation, 87.5% of MFK scholarship recipients are working in well-known energy sector companies, 11 of them with regular contracts and while others are getting their first experience in energy sector through our internship program. Many of them are also continuing in parallel their studies for post-graduate degrees. They are now working in Kosovo in positions as: power engineer, solar engineer, robotic process automation developer ; coordinator for renewable energy sources, head of energy planning, etc.


The leadership shown by these women is the leadership we needed to jumpstart a greater inclusion of women in the entire energy sector.


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