In September last year, the first pilot of the Doyenne Initiative was launched in Mozambique, a movement aimed at selecting Mozambican graduates to continue engineering studies in the United States. The kick-off was held in a week filled with math and English tests, promoted through word of mouth on the network of women involved in the energy sector. Doyenne is a beautiful word that comes from Latin. It meant chief of ten. Like all words, it gained other nuances. In Portuguese, it means rector, dean, keeping strong its first meaning of leader. This is the DNA of this non-governmental organization, composed of women who want to promote female leadership in a sector that is predominantly male, energy.
In addition to the beacon of the global agenda 2030 - which has gender equality as its fifth point - the background of this initiative is based on sisterhood, global solidarity between women, the revisited post-feminist concept that claims equality between women and men in the world of work, as well as in married and family life.
Cilla Refinaldo, Mechanical Engineer
“We met Kathy Eberwein, the American engineer who founded the Doyenne Initiative, at an energy conference in Maputo,” Talumba Katawala, from the Mozambique Women for Energy platform, tells us. “Like her, we think that leadership positions in the energy sector are always occupied by men. Also because women do not have specialized training, impairing their position in the job opportunities created in the gas industry.” Soon, the names of four of the eight women who participated in the assessment seminar will be released, in order to advance their application to the University of Maryland, in the United States, for the Master and PhD in Reliability Engineering, under of a scholarship program funded by the Doyenne Initiative. They are graduate-level women who already work in several companies, public or private, and who come from various parts of the country. All motivated and aware that there is no change in society that can be achieved without new roles, in addition to those that have already been acquired by women, being won in a battle that imposes globalization.
“Mozambique has its story to tell in the gas industry: its blank page can and should be written also by women everywhere, also in decision-making places. It is neither futurism nor utopia. It is our commitment to social justice,” Katawala says. “This initiative embraces sisterhood and positive discrimination: both are necessary to really achieve equal opportunities.” Doyenne is a global network of women who show solidarity to make this world a more just and sustainable place. “After specialization, our engineers will be witnesses that it is possible to shift the paradigm,” Katawala explains. “It will not be immediate. Bearing in mind that gas concessions are for tens of years, over the next few years, their commitment will be to spread this seed to influence governance, be it at the political level, or at the company level, for the construction of a society that isn’t sexist or discriminatory.”
Tania Chongo, Mechanical Engineer