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USAID assists DISCOs in improving working conditions for women

Maverick Report

ISLAMABAD: In a milestone accomplishment, six government-owned power distribution companies (DISCOs) have adopted Protection Against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act 2010.

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Power Distribution Program has been tirelessly working with all nine DISCOs to provide a better working environment for its female staff. The program strives to provide women with the basic necessities at the workplace and also ensures the protection of their basic rights.

“Women hardly make one percent of the workforce at DISCOs and are mostly confined to clerical and desk jobs. After USAID’s interventions targeted at the female staff of DISCOs, women are now aware of career paths in the energy sector and the retention ratio of these employees have greatly increased as more women are now seeking a career in the power distribution business,” says a USAID press release issued here on Wednesday.

“Women already play a key role in Pakistan’s economy; strengthening their role in energy will create a real difference in national prosperity, therefore, USAID is making all efforts to increase women’s participation while creating a female-friendly environment in the energy sector,” it adds.

To ensure a healthy work environment, according to the press release, USAID has successfully organized gender equity training sessions in all nine DISCOS. USAID has also informed the authorities regarding the Protection Against Harassment at Workplace Act 2010 and seven DISCOS have successfully adopted the policy.

“The USAID Power Distribution Program has successfully set up a daycare facility along with a rest area at Multan Electric Power Company (MEPCO). Women can bring their children to work and visit them in their spare time, while they are under the supervision of trained specialists,” the release says.

“A similar rest area facility has been set up at Peshawar Electric Supply Company. Customer service centers in six DISCOS and Management Information System Data Center in one DISCO have also been renovated, providing a better environment for female staff,” it adds.

“The Customer Service Center established by USAID has created a soft image of GEPCO to our employees as well as consumers and this office has become a role model for other offices,” says GEPCO chief engineer/customer service director, according to the press release.

The USAID Power Distribution Program is a five year, USAID-funded program aimed at working jointly with DISCOs in Pakistan to improve their performance in terms of a reduction in losses, and improvement in both revenues and customer services, to bring them to the level of well-run utilities in other progressive countries. Through this program, the United States government provides assistance and support to the Pakistan government in its efforts to reform the power sector to end the current energy shortfall.

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