Address gender mainstreaming in ECOWAS energy sector – Madam Ifey Ikeonu

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Madam Ifey Ikeonu, Senior Expert in Energy Regulation under the European Union (EU) funded Technical Assistance Programme to ECOWAS, has challenged stakeholders to double their efforts in addressing gender mainstreaming in the ECOWAS energy sector.

Gender mainstreaming is making sure that gender is incorporated in all aspects of energy policies and interventions, it also ensures that proper assessments are made for the use of energy, the sources of energy, productive uses and payment in planning and executing energy projects.

In 2017, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments approved the ECOWAS Policy on Gender Mainstreaming for Energy Access, with the aim of providing policymakers with instrumental and human rights-based indicators and rigorous arguments to align energy interventions with principles of gender.

Most member states are yet to adopt the Directives and put in place the enabling legal and institutional arrangements to give effect to the Policy and Directives at the national level.

This continues to impact negatively on the ability of the sub-region to leverage on economic and social developments that can come from a more pro-active approach to gender mainstreaming.

She noted that the Policy had timelines and talked about 25 per cent of women participation in 2020 and doubling that to 50 percent in 2030, however, that of 2020 had not been achieved, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor.

Madam Ikeonu said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the side-line of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority’s (ERERA) workshop on Fundamentals of Regulation and Introduction to the ECOWAS Regional Market for its Network of Communication Experts at Akosombo in the Eastern Region.

The four-day workshop hosted 13 participants drawn from the Electricity Regulatory Authorities of ECOWAS Member States, as part of the ongoing Technical Assistance of the EU to ERERA relating to EU-funded programme on Improving the Governance of the Energy Sector in the ECOWAS region.

Madam Ikeonu told GNA that part of the major challenges in terms of implementing the Gender Policy itself was creating the necessary awareness which is actually part of the strategic objectives.

“So, State actors are supposed to be pushing this whole agenda and making it possible for all institutions to achieve this goal, but unfortunately, from my point of view, I have not seen more awareness in that regard”.

She reiterated that member states were expected to adopt the provisions of these directives and proposed that people must be compelled to act by way of having in place laws in all the member states.

“Some of these policies that have been translated into concrete actions with directives should be done, else people probably will not do it,” she added.

The Energy Expert touched on the need to have more of national governments promulgating the necessary laws at the state level that will compel state institutions to do what they have been required to do.

Madam Ethel Linda Mensah, Head of Public Affairs at Ghana Energy Commission, who commended ECOWAS and ERERA for the workshop, noted that the four-day workshop had been an eye-opener to all issues involved in regulation including gender.

She said “as communicators we don’t all necessarily come from a technical background, but it is very crucial that we understand the technical issues involved in our work, so we are able to communicate appropriately to various stakeholders”.

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