Role of women in ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian energy sector during the war

March 8, 2023

On March 7, 2023, the USAID Energy Security Project (ESP) held a “Women in Energy” Round Table to mark the vitally important role of Ukrainian energy workers, especially women, in helping Ukraine’s energy sector function during and after the war. During the year of full-scale war, Ukrainian women played an essential role in ensuring the supply of energy resources and regulating energy costs at the household and community levels. Ukrainian women have become a driving force in promoting sustainable development and energy-efficient technologies, changing behavior, and encouraging smart energy consumption to strengthen Ukraine’s energy security.

Ashley King, Energy Officer of USAID/Ukraine. Screenshot by USAID ESP.

In her welcoming remarks, Ashley King, Energy Officer of USAID/Ukraine, expressed her deep gratitude to Ukrainian energy workers who, while risking their lives, demonstrated extraordinary resilience, and readiness to work in emergency conditions and repair damages, and restore the supply of electricity, heat, and hot water to millions of Ukrainians. According to Ms. King, the creation of new jobs in the sector and the development of renewable energy can contribute to gender balance in the male-dominated industry and help the country’s reconstruction after the end of the war.

Yaroslav Demchenkov, Deputy Minister for European Integration of the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine, noted in his speech that the Ministry of Energy adheres to the principles of gender equality and supports initiatives to encourage women to leadership and career growth.

Mike Trainor, Chief of Party of the USAID ESP, noted that the war in Ukraine has a devastating effect on women and their lives. At the same time, the war has significantly changed the country’s energy sector. It is opening opportunities for women to leave their mark on the recovery and development of the Ukrainian energy industry for years to come. “One of how ESP promotes the strengthening of the role of women and gender equality in the energy sector is a modular training program on social inclusion and non-discrimination for employees of energy companies. More than 300 employees have passed training on gender equality and social inclusion and increased awareness of women’s rights and opportunities,” said USAID ESP Chief of Party.

The round table participants also discussed how the energy sector’s recovery, renewable energy development, and the need to achieve carbon neutrality would create more employment opportunities for women and help overcome gender inequality.

During the year of the war, we all witnessed numerous examples of self-sacrificing work by women in all energy companies. The event’s participants were impressed by the incredible stories of CU Kyivteploenergo (KTE) women about their work during the first days and months of the full-scale russian invasion. One thousand five hundred KTE workers, including 300 women, spent weeks next to the heat production sources without leaving their workplaces, thus preventing disruption of the heating season and continuing to supply heat to the residents of Kyiv. We learned about many examples of dedicated work by women in energy companies. Women strive to support the energy sector and provide heat and light to millions of Ukrainians.

Andrii Gerus, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Energy and Housing and Utility Services. Screenshot by USAID ESP.

Andrii Gerus, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Energy and Housing and Utility Services, addressed gender inequality in the Ukrainian energy sector and called on the Government of Ukraine to pay more attention to the issue of gender equality in the industry. Victoriia Hryb, People’s Deputy of Ukraine, Member of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Energy and Housing and Utility Services, expressed her gratitude to the organizers of the event for the opportunity to exchange opinions and discuss the problematic issues that Ukrainian women in the energy sector face every day while performing their professional duties during the war.

Olha Babii, Commissioner of the National Commission Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission (NEURC), spoke about the Regulator’s positive experience in promoting women’s leadership and gender equality and expressed her wish for the need to hold similar events to draw public attention to the role of women in energy.

Yuliia Perchuk, Head of the Reform Support Team of the Ministry of Community and Territorial Development of Ukraine, noted that despite the transformational processes currently taking place in the Ministry, gender equality and women’s leadership are among the priority areas of work. Ms. Perchuk also recalled the positive experience of cooperation with Diana Korsakaite, USAID ESP District Heating Sector Lead, and the creation of the UNEEDS platform in particular.

Screenshot by USAID ESP.

Representatives of energy companies – Member of the Supervisory Board of PJSC Ukrhydroenergo Nataliya Mykolska, Head of Strategy Department of the Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine Kateryna Kovalenko, Head of Gender Committee of the CU Kyivteploenergo Yuliia Orel, and Director of CU Heat Supply of Odesa Hanna Pozdniakova – gave examples of courageous and hard work of women in their companies to ensure the resilience of the energy sector.

About 90 men and women joined the round table event to hear about the obstacles and challenges faced by women in the energy sector during the war and to develop ways to work together to support and empower women.

USAID is a global leader in women’s involvement in the energy sector and in developing energy policies that promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Energy Security Project (ESP), helps the Government of Ukraine and companies in the energy sector not only to ensure the uninterrupted operation of Ukrainian electricity, gas, and heat networks but also to implement programs to strengthen the role of women in the sector. The USAID ESP supports empowering women in the energy sector through forming gender committees in energy companies, gender equality training, networking, and providing mentoring opportunities, training courses, and more. And to strengthen Ukraine’s energy sector and ensure its recovery with women’s participation, USAID ESP will expand cooperation with its current partners and establish partnerships with new ones.