High level conference on women's economic empowerment through energy access opens in Freetown


A high level conference on women's economic empowerment through energy access in the countries of the Mano River Union (MRU) opened on Monday, 7th May 2013 in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  The conference, one of the series of activities to mark the 40th anniversary of the signing of the MRU treaty, was attended by Ministers of energy and gender from Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Liberia, the four countries of the MRU.

The Government of Sierra Leone, the Mano River Union (MRU), the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the African Development Bank (AfDB)  jointly organized the three day conference on the theme “Women’s Economic Empowerment through Energy Access in the MRU Sub-region.”

The conference was a follow-up to the hugely successful ECOWAS High Level Energy Forum, held from 29 to 31 October 2012 in Accra, Ghana which saw the adoption of the ECOWAS Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policies by the ECOWAS Ministers. The policies envisage that by 2014, Member States would have developed and adopted their own "gender-sensitive" national renewable energy policies which will contribute to the regional ECOWAS targets.

A working group on women and sustainable energy was also set up at the Freetown conference,  the outcome will be presented at the forthcoming Vienna Energy Forum on 29th May 2013.

The conference featured a presentation on the status of gender mainstreaming in the energy sector in the MRU sub-region and offered an opportunity for a practical training on gender mainstreaming in renewable energy and energy efficiency policies and projects, with a view to equip participants with the necessary skills to contribute in development of the sub-regional Gender Action Plan on Energy and Women’s Empowerment.

The conference on Energy and Gender in the MRU sub region presented a sub-regional Action Plan on Women’s Economic Empowerment through access to energy.

Countries of the MRU recognize that women’s access to sustainable energy is critical to the development to the region’s economy as well as to the success and sustainability of the SE4ALL initiative and the MDGs.  They are committed to promoting the full participation of women as key stakeholders at all levels of decision-making for proper integration of gender perspectives in the planning, development and implementation of all energy-related dialogues, initiatives and policies to promote sustainable energy for all. 

The conference contributes towards the development agenda of the MRU, the ECOWAS White Paper on access to energy services for populations in rural and peri-urban areas and the ECOWAS regional policies on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.  The High Level Conference on Energy and Gender in the MRU is part of an ongoing effort by ECREEE to mainstream gender in energy access in the ECOWAS region.

The concept note and information on the venue is attached for more information. For clarifications kindly direct your inquiries to conference@ecreee.org .