Breaking Barriers: Empowering Women Through WEEN, a Bold New Initiative

The promotion of gender equity and diversity in the energy and extractives industry is the ultimate goal of the newly established WEEN. The Women in Energy and Extractives Network (WEEN) was officially launched on Thursday 11th May 2023 by the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), marking a significant milestone in promoting gender equality and empowerment in the energy and extractives sectors. This ground-breaking initiative provides a platform for women in the industry to connect and support each other's growth and development while driving change in the sector. Women's empowerment is at the heart of this initiative, as it aims to enable them to reach their full potential.

Historically, the energy and extractive sectors have been male-dominated, significantly losing talent and potential. The WEEN initiative seeks to change this by providing a platform for women to be mentored, learn and network in order to tap into new and wider opportunities. Women have the potential to be transformative agents of change in these sectors by bringing fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table and acting as role models for other women, encouraging them to pursue careers in these sectors.

WEEN’s mission is clear. It is here to provide a platform that fosters gender integration in the energy and extractives industry's operations and its objectives are specific. WEEN’s objectives are to strengthen women's networks in the sector, providing them with a supportive community, elevate the profile of women in the industry and work to eliminate barriers to their advancement. The initiative also aims to enhance women's participation in the sector by providing access to business structuring, finance, training, academic bursaries, conferences, capacity building, and mentorship, to encourage and foster female leadership in the sector and finally, the network advocates for and strengthens the integration of gender aspects, with a particular focus on women, in energy and extractives policies and programs at national, regional, and global levels.

The WEEN initiative is a breath of fresh air and extremely significant because it recognizes the importance of partnerships and collaboration. Gender equality and women's empowerment are complex issues requiring multiple stakeholders' involvement. The initiative seeks to bring together industry leaders, government officials, civil society organizations, students, job seekers and other stakeholders to work together to promote gender equality in the energy and extractive sectors.

UNOC is thrilled to see this initiative become a reality. Through this network, we will advocate for policies and practices that advance women's rights and opportunities, promote inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, and provide support for women's growth and development in the Oil and Gas industry. We understand and can’t appreciate enough that the Women in Energy and Extractives Network is an important step towards creating a more inclusive and supportive culture that encourages and recognizes women's contributions to the sector.

The launch was attended by distinguished guests, including the guest of honour, Hon. Dr Ruth Nankabirwa Sentamu, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development. The interim chairperson of the organization, Dr Lyoidah Kiconco, the Head of Exploration and New Ventures at UNOC also announced the theme of the launch, "Role of Women in the Energy and Extractives Sector," and acknowledged the efforts of various stakeholders in addressing the challenges faced by women in the sector.

During the panel discussion on strategies to promote women's participation in the sector, Barbara Nabuweke, the head of Contracts and Negotiations at UNOC, highlighted the importance of networking opportunities and encouraged women to learn about WEEN and its objectives to secure their rightful place at the table.

The Women in Energy and Extractives Network is a monumental initiative that will play a crucial role in promoting gender equality and empowerment in the energy and extractives sectors. UNOC is thrilled to spearhead this initiative . We urge everyone, both men and women, to become a part of the network and contribute to the inspiring campaign to strengthen women's position in the industry. By joining forces, we have the power to establish a world where gender parity is not only an aspiration but a tangible achievement.