Remarks by Dr. Susan Brems, Mission Director, Launch of Department of Energy Gender Toolkit for the Energy Sector

Thursday, December 10, 2015

[As Prepared]

[Acknowledgments and introductions]

Good morning!

I am happy to join you here today. Thank you for choosing a venue that’s convenient for us who are working next door.

I am here to represent the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development, more commonly known as USAID. USAID is the principal arm of the United States Government that offers technical and financial assistance to partner countries, such as the Philippines, and the citizens of those countries. I bring you the greeting of the United States Ambassador to the Philippines, Mr. Philip Goldberg.

We are pleased to support the Department of Energy in the development of the Gender Toolkit for the Energy Sector. This is an important activity that advances our Agency’s core development objectives of gender equality and female empowerment. These twin goals are fundamental for the realization of human rights and key to effective and sustainable development outcomes.

The agenda on gender equality and female empowerment is noticeably shared by the Philippines. You have at least two important laws promoting this mandate. And of course, you have a dedicated agency - the Philippine Commission on Women.

Specifically for the Philippines, the United States Government recognizes that a more stable, prosperous and well‐governed country – goals that we have formulated with the Philippine Government in our Country Development Cooperation Strategy for 2012 to 2106 – cannot be achieved without mainstreaming gender in all phases of the development process.

This has been evident in our work. I will use the Advancing Philippine Competitiveness Project, or USAID COMPETE, as my example since most of you are familiar with it. The project assists the Philippines to improve its competitiveness. It focuses on improving infrastructure, enhancing competitiveness of key industries, and facilitating access to credit. In our work for each area, we strive to incorporate gender concerns. For example, we try to support women-owned enterprises in expanding their businesses. We have also launched a Gender Toolkit for the tourism sector in 2014.

We have been working closely with the Department of Energy to lower the cost of electricity, as well as to ensure sustainable power. But that is not all. We try to deliver a holistic package and support interventions that are inclusive. And part of that is ensuring that women are provided equal opportunities in different areas of the sector and that women can fulfill their potential as full and equal members of the industry. That is why we are happy to support this initiative.

According to the 2010 Annual Survey of Philippine Business, 81 percent of workers in the electricity, gas, steam, and air-conditioning industries are men. And in the Department of Energy, 68 percent of engineers and technical staff are also male. This leaves a slim window for women to deliver their unique talents and perspectives in this field.

Within this context, USAID is pleased to support this new Gender Toolkit. This will assist the Department of Energy, and its agencies and programs in becoming more aware of, and responsive to, the gender concerns of its internal and external clients. USAID COMPETE, implemented by the Asia Foundation, with Mr. Henry Basilio as Chief of Party, has been working with our partners in the Department of Energy to give the provision of equal rights, opportunities and shared responsibilities between men and women a framework that everybody can use.

We are happy that the end result lays out measures to eliminate gender segregation in the power industry, including the development of policies to minimize discrimination in hiring that perpetuates stereotypes. We are also pleased that in the five-year agenda included in the toolkit, the Department plans to hire more women engineers and technical staff to boost equality in this sector. I have also learned that service providers are now mandated to hire more women in energy exploration and production activities. It is good that the Department of Energy will also undertake actions to increase women’s representation in the management of energy agencies.

And we find the inclusion of an easy-to-use practical gender checklist noteworthy; this will better ensure that gender concerns are addressed in project design and execution.

I would like to emphasize one item in the toolkit, which scales up the “Girls and Science, Girls in Science” program. This program encourages high school girls from selected science schools to enroll in courses related to geo-sciences, engineering and related disciplines.

With this, we might just see the likes of Engineer Aisa Mijeno, who joined President Obama during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit for her invention of lamps being powered with salt water, as becoming the norm rather than a rarity.

The Philippines, as a nation, and as a partner in development, depends on wider perspectives to ensure that it can meet its energy needs. Empowering Filipino women may just be the answer to that.

As I end my remarks, I would like to congratulate you for championing this blueprint to promote gender in the power industry. I am optimistic, especially with a gender and development focal point at the undersecretary level, that you will realize the agenda we have put forward.

The United States Government is your committed partner in this challenging endeavor. Let us all remain energized in mainstreaming gender into our work and the various aspects of our lives.

Magandang umaga po.

Issuing Country