Electricity Regulatory Authority Chief Executive Officer Eng. Ziria Waako Tibalwa has advised girls not to claim that their gender is an impedement to their ability to become professional and successful engineers.
She says there’s a tendency by some girls to claim that science subjects are a preserve for boys which she says is wrong and must change.
Ziria who herself is a professional engineer in energy, says there are a number of girls with a potential to become good engineers but they lack self confidence and career guidance.
Ziria made the remarks while addressing students at Nabisunsa Girls SS during the launch of the Women In Energy Project 2023.
She said that in past, in academics there was a clear line in fields pursued by women and men.
“There were fields meant for men. Up to now, they don’t believe that a woman can head a great institution of engineers (ERA). Many of the men actually refer to me as Mr. Waako thinking I am a man” she said adding that she was overjoyed to learn that majority of the girls at Nabisunsa are pursuing sciences.
“Being a woman leading a male-dominated field, they keep asking me ‘how did you make it to that level? I keep telling them that success is not an event but a process that requires careful planning” she said.
Ziria and a team of other high ranking women engineers serving in various energy entities including UETCL, UEDCL, Umeme, energy ministry, Bujagali energy, among others had gone to talk to the female students as they launched this year’s project. The project according to Ziria is aimed at empowering and inspiring students to embrace sciences.
“The current society appreciates the capacity of women to deliver in all fields. However, lack of role models, proper mentoring and career guidance is leading to school drop outs especially in rural communities where there’s little exposure” Ziria noted.
She said some parents leave the roles of career guidance and mentoring to teachers and teachers also push the same to the parents and in the process the student misses out.
She said under this project which started four years ago, ERA makes visits to various schools across the country to talk to students and so far, the results are encouraging. Ziria said many girls are now posting good performance.
She advised girls to believe in themselves, do everything at the right time, listen to instructions as the only way for them to be able to realize their dreams.
“Accept to be guided, listen to your teachers. Performance is not effortless but requires hard work. It is possible. Remember, luck only favors those who are prepared” she said.
Ms Busingye the CEO of Frontier Energy in Uganda, told the students that it’s only themselves at individual level who can design their personal career. She said there’s no country in the world that can develop without the energy sector, meaning this sector is on high demand with lots of opportunities.
“It’s you that can make yourself valuable. Not even your parent or teacher. No matter how much money your parents have, it’s you to make yourself valuable. Stay in school. Don’t live your life by default but it should be a deliberate choice by you” she advised.
Hawa Bukenya, a legal officer at Uganda National Oil Company and and OG of Nabisunsa Girls, advised her colleagues still in school to aim high and dream big. She also asked them to take up leadership, have self confidence and respect for teachers as these will lead them to success.
Ampaire Christine Muhumuza who works with UEDCL, emphasized discipline among students as a must.
“Are you doing the right thing at the right time? When it’s prep time, are you reading or talking? Listening is key and it’s part of discipline. Remember, success is a process and there’s no short cut” she said.
Stellah Mukasa from Umeme, told students who included those in Senior six, five, four and three, that they need to have courage, hold onto their dreams and listen attentively if they want to succeed.
Meanwhile, ERA board member Amb. Joan Rwabyomere told students that it’s very possible to excel regardless of one’s gender or family background. Rwabyomere who has served governmnent for the last 34 years up to the level of a cabinet minister, told students to live a purposeful life.
Electrical Eng. Cecilia Menya Nakiranda, the director of natural resources in the ministry for energy, and who launched the Women In Energy Project 2023 said this project is good because it aims to increase the participation of women in energy and mathematics. She said it’s meant to inspire and empower young women to embrace governmnent program of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). She said so far, 19 girls schools across the country with over 12000 students have benefited from this program.