Latin American energy companies to boost gender equality and access to renewable energy

28 May 2014

imagePhoto: UNDP Bolivia

Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil / New York - Representatives from nearly 20 Latin American energy companies gathered today in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, to build a common agenda that boosts renewable energy, gender equality at work and the use of energy as a key driver of women empowerment during a meeting taking place here 28 -29 May.

Ten Brazilian companies (Furnas, Eletrobras , Eletronuclear , Itaipu , Eletronorte fiber Eletrosul , Caixa Economica Federal, among others) and other important Latin American energy companies from Chile (Enel); Argentina (YPF); Colombia (Grupo de Energia de Bogota); Mexico (Pemex); Uruguay (UTE) and Itaipu ( Paraguay)  kick started today the two-day first egional Renewable Energy, Electricity-based Mobility and Gender Equality Meeting hosted by the binational energy company Itaipu (Brazil-Paraguay), UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Sustainability - The discussions seek to align national and regional practices to the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for all initiative (SE4ALL), which aims to ensure universal access to modern energy services; double the global rate of energy efficiency improvement and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix – all by the year 2013.

Gender equality -Energy companies will also adapt their current policies to boost gender equality at work. Several companies in Latin America and the Caribbean have ben adopting UNDP’s Gender Equality Seal, helping women’s ascension to top decision-making position in the private sector. Across the region, such certification programme has been encouraging public and private companies to boost gender equality in workplaces—1,700 firms in 12 countries have qualified by meeting programme standards on hiring and workplace practices

Moreover, several countries countries in the region have been adopting national policies to boost gender equality in the workplace. For example, Brazil’s Pro Gender and Race Programme offers a certification programme for medium and large-sized companies to boost gender equality in the work place. In addition, the UN Global Compact and UN Women’s principles of women empowerment for business  offers guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.

Itaipu Binational (Brazil-Paraguay) has pioneered the adoption of a gender equality practice in Brazil’s energy sector, also promoting electricity-based mobility and transportation. But a recent study by the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) only identified gender equality strategies in six national energy agencies in the region and only four countries (Uruguay, Nicaragua, Mexico and Dominican Republic) out of the 13 assessed  showed a satisfactory distribution of decision-making positions among women and men. The same study stressed that in Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru the majority of women working in the energy sector held administrative positions whereas the decision-making positions were mostly held by men.

In addition to matching the distribution of jobs between men and women, especially in decision -making positions , companies are called to act responsibly to reduce the environmental impact of their activities and to address the impacts of interventions in the lives of women and men, who should benefit as  sustainable energy producers and users.