The Institute of the Americas was pleased to collaborate on the inaugural  “Women in Energy 2019” conference in Quito, Ecuador. Jacqueline Sanchez, Energy Policy Associate,  participated on a panel of women professionals in the energy and finance sectors, including Daniela Espinosa, Co-founder and COO, Kushki, Laurie Fitzmaurice, VP Business Development Mexico, EDF Renewable Energy North America, Sofía Zárate, Commercial Specialist, US Embassy Quito and Rocio Velarde, Country Manager, Citibank Ecuador. The panel “Women Planning the Future” focused on key themes related to women in leadership, the role of technology, the current challenges and opportunities and the development opportunities for women empowerment for the next decade.

Some of the topics addressed were the following:

Mentoring and networking

These are key topics to succeed on the professional world, especially nowadays that there are many technologies and social media platforms that can connect each other from anywhere in the world.  During the last years, these platforms have gained popularity as the number of professional networks of women have increased. These focused groups have supported women professionals, as they have been able to share professional experiences but also personal experiences and growth within the groups.

Mentorships are aimed to support women in advancing their professional skills including technical and non-technical aspects of their industry. The programs vary from organization to organization but usually focus on strengthening skills of the participants to help them organize their professional goals and to follow a right path to success. Mentees are more than likely to become mentors of other women by being solidary.

Women in the Economy

In 2015, Citi released a study: Women in the Economy II that relates to “How Implementing a Women’s Economic Empowerment Agenda Can Shape the Global Economy.” The study has made the case that the role of women in the labor force should be incorporated as a mainstream topic within the debate on global growth for both economic as well as social reasons. The study found that the GDP in Ecuador could grow significantly if more professional opportunities are given to women. The current real GDP of the country according the CIA world factbook it is 2.4% (2017 est.) and it is expected to double if women join the labor force.

International Organization’s Programs for Women

Women-only programs are important as well. Examples as the “Women Empowerment in Renewable Energy Sector,” an executive program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have included several phases for participants empowerment. A thorough online training related to renewable energy (RE) developments and topics as project management, RE co-benefits, financing, economics and gender-energy nexus.

The United Nations has also developed women-only trainings referring to gender equality as an essential component for the organization’s commitment to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. Through online and in person programs, it is aiming to become a leading center to contribute to building a society that respects and promotes human rights for all women and men.

Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change

Another topic is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are 17, these are global, action-oriented and universally applicable, concise and easy to communicate. The SDGs have an integral approach when contemplating in their elaboration the economic, social, environmental, and cultural dimensions as a transversal axis of development. Through the Ecuador 2030 project, Ecuadorian entrepreneurs have committed to seven of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

The Ecuador 2030 project has identified seven objectives in which it will have a direct influence and effects in eradicating poverty; achieve sustained economic growth, tackle climate change or promote peaceful societies, and global commitment.

  • Goal 7: Affordable and non-polluting energy
  • Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
  • Goal 12: Responsible production and consumption
  • Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • Goal 13: Climate action
  • Goal 17: Partnerships

The event was very well received and successfully promoted women’s empowerment, leadership and entrepreneurship. Further, it provided a great platform to network and engage with key energy industry stakeholders from across Ecuador and the hemisphere more broadly.

We look forward to continuing our collaboration with  the organizers: the Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE Ecuador Section and its President Fernando L. Benalcazar, as well as Maria Augusta Cueva from Schlumberger, who was the lead on the 2019 event design and implementation.

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