ESCOM hailed for promoting social and gender inclusion

The Ministry of Gender has hailed Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) Limited for being a star performer in the promotion of social and gender inclusion at the workplace.

Deputy Director in the Ministry of Gender, Ronald Phiri, said this in his remark during a day-long 2024 Men’s Conference for ESCOM Limited Central Region members of staff.

The conference, held under the theme: 40:60? Yes! Ndizotheka, pooled over 200 ESCOM employees at Lilongwe Hotel.

“You are a star performer as a company in ending gender gap at the work-place. It shows that you are ending the gap. This is very important as we want Malawi to be a transformed country in ensuring that all forms of gender-based violence, the spread of HIV/Aids and discrimination are ended,” Phiri said.

In his official address, ESCOM Chief Operations Officer, Eng.Maxwell Mulimakwenda, gave an overview of gender-based disparities that exists in the engineering profession on the world scale and Malawi, evidenced by low representation of women.

He attributed the low representation of women in engineering to perceptions that the profession is all about getting dirty, unconscious biases during job interviews, girls’ limited involvement in mathematics and science subjects in school and obscene songs which male employees sing especially when doing field work.

“Where we are coming from, we have low perceptions that engineering or mathematics is for boys, that it is a dirty profession and that it is for boys,” the COO said.

“There have been issues of biases and attitudes perpetuated by us, men, at the workplace. There are also some songs that put off women. Let us change that because it affects female employees. We need to address issues of unconscious biases during interviews. Let us make sure that, we as interviewers, do not have these biases that girls don’t do well in the technical field.”

Mulimakwenda said research shows that gender inclusion at the work-place enhances creativity and innovation.

He then outlined measures ESCOM has put in place to ensure social and gender inclusion at the workplace, including widening the academic qualification catchment area with consideration also placed on female holders of certificates such as for renewable energy.

The COO also said ESCOM has, since the year 2018, offered scholarships to 60 female engineering students from Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences and Malawi University of Science and Technology.

He added that the Functional Review which ESCOM has embarked on would ensure the employment of 15 managers in the Distribution Department and that “at least six out of the 15 will be women.”

ESCOM will also hire some 100 technicians and engineers with half of them earmarked to be women to beat the corporation’s policy of 40 percent proportion of females to 60 percent males.

In his closing remarks, ESCOM Director of Human Resources and Administration, Chrispin Banda, who earlier made a presentation titled 40:60? Yes Ndizotheka, described the conference as a success.

“Let me thank the sponsor of this conference, I am talking about the Board and the Executive Management. To your participants, you turned up in large numbers and you have surely benefitted from this conference. We feel encouraged by the positive feedback from this conference,” he said.

Organising committee Chairperson Kondwani Mughogho described the workshop as an eye-opener and a success saying the participants had learnt alot in mental and reproductive health.

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