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IFC’s recommendations for gender equality in Nepal’s hydropower sector

Equality
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has released a new report providing recommendations on how to boost gender equality in Nepal’s hydropower sector.

The study of 20 companies is part of the Powered by Women Initiative—a time-bound commitment by companies to build the business case for improved gender equality and diversity in renewable energy companies in Nepal.

Key study findings:

  • Amongst the 20 companies studied, only 10% of total employees in Nepal’s hydropower sector are women, and very few of those employed are in leadership positions, included in corporate boards or occupy non-traditional roles in the industry
  • Various constraints continue to impede women’s entrance into this traditionally male-dominated sector – gender stereotyping, lack of gender-sensitive policies and practices, remoteness of hydropower project sites and a general lack of women in science, technology, engineering, and math education
  • Adopting targeted and tailored interventions to advance gender diversity and equality have demonstrated net positive impacts in terms of business growth, efficiency and sustainability around the world
  • At the corporate level, companies are recommended to: adopt policies to improve gender equality and equal treatment for all staff, create more career development opportunities targeted at women, build awareness on gender bias and set targets for diversity in board representation and leadership
  • These corporate policies should also extend to the project level, where more gender specialists and female staff should be deployed to the field, more emphasis on the collection of gender-aggregated data, and investment in opportunities for women to develop skills in non-traditional roles
  • At the community level, companies should incorporate gender-responsive facilitation and techniques and gender equality tools, strengthen GBV-related reporting mechanisms, support women-led businesses and explore partnerships to train women in non-traditional roles.

The study – spearheaded by IFC’s Hydro Environmental and Social Advisory team in partnership with the governments of Australia, Norway and Japan –shows very few of those employed are in leadership positions, included in corporate boards or occupy non-traditional roles in the hydropower sector.

Nepal ranks 105 out of 149 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index 2018 conducted by the World Economic Forum, indicating that there is still a critical need to focus on gender equality across various spheres.

Wendy Werner, IFC country manager for Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, said: “Women make up more than half of Nepal’s population, yet the study reveals only 10% of all employees in the country’s hydropower sector are women.

“Companies need to seize the opportunity to embark on more gender-sensitive and family-friendly policies to help boost staff productivity and attract and retain talent which will ultimately boost their businesses.”

Kate Lazarus, Asia Environment and Social Governance team leader for IFC, adds: “While some companies, particularly those led by women entrepreneurs, do show willingness in this regard, there are still challenges in transforming that intent into action on the ground.”