Launch of the Association of Women in the Energy Sector in Kosovo

Chargé d’Affairs Colleen Hyland remarks at the AWESK Launch Event, June 27, 2017

Good morning, I’m delighted to be here at the launch of the Association of Women in the Energy Sector in Kosovo (AWESK), an important new voice for women’s economic inclusion.  And thanks to our partners at Repower for helping to make this whole day possible.

This event brings together women from all aspects of the energy sector in Kosovo, including the Association’s first champions and founding members.  And I commend all of you for your dedication and commitment to bringing greater gender equality to the energy sector.

As you know too well, women are underrepresented in the energy sector in Kosovo and around the world, but there is every reason to think we can start to change this.  We can help to bring more talented women into the energy workforce, to empower them as decision-makers in the sector, and to ensure they have equal access to education, advancement, and professional development.

Just a couple months ago I spoke at an event marking International Girls in ICT Day, a day of mentoring and workshops and career fairs, to help nurture the extraordinary potential of girls across Kosovo, and to instill in them a belief that all career paths are open to them.

Launching this new organization today is a part of that effort as well, and not just because it’s the right thing to do for women and girls.  But because Kosovo’s growing economy demands secure and reliable energy, and that’s going to take the full measure of the country’s young and highly-skilled workforce.  It would be madness to exclude half your talented population from this effort.

This couldn’t be more urgent because Kosovo’s energy sector faces so many pressing challenges.  Ensuring the security of electricity supply, working towards regional integration, and making progress on generation diversification – Kosovo needs its best and brightest working on these problems every day, and that means women need a more level playing field.

Already there are indications that we’re moving in the right direction.  I’m particularly delighted to see some of the young women here who have participated in REPOWER’s internship program.  I understand that more than half of the interns in this program over the last two years were women, which demonstrates that when given an equal chance to compete, women are more than ready to take their place in this sector.

And as Kosovo works to integrate more energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, it’s even more important to ensure that women have an opportunity to participate in such a growing field.

Once again, I thank the smart and determined women who identified the need for this organization and worked hard to make it happen.  It’s so important, no matter what career you have, to speak up and to be your own best advocate.

And gentlemen, it’s vital that men in the energy sector get behind this initiative as well.  Gender equality is in your interest as well, because if Kosovo’s energy sector thrives, the whole country benefits.

I thank REPOWER for creating the mentoring framework that has given a strong, collective voice to so many individual aspirations. And I wish this new Association and all its members every success as you raise your voices, and as you continue to grow in numbers and influence.

I’m looking forward to see what you do next.  I’m sure you will pursue new initiatives with the same enthusiasm and tenacity that you’ve demonstrated so far.