A report published by UNWomen shows Covid 19 having the greatest impact on the female gender. Women represent 70% of the front line combating the pandemic (jobs in the social and healthcare sectors) and occupying the larger portion of the informal economy, disrupted at present and enjoying few social guarantees. And not only this: the new coronavirus has triggered an increase in domestic and sexual violence due to higher levels of household tension (both emotional and financial) while at the same time reducing gestational and gynecological  monitoring in the light of restrictions on the offer of such services.

With a view to supporting women and promoting equality of gender in times of pandemic, ENGIE is announcing the launch of the Mulheres do Nosso Bairro (Women in our Neighborhood) project – a network of initiatives for boosting actions generating income  through initiatives directly implemented by the Company. These include fostering entrepreneurship, free on-line training courses, information on support networks, actions raising sensitivity and awareness for preventing domestic violence and support for gestational healthcare.

“In addition to emergency donations that Engie has been making since the beginning of the pandemic, the Company is conscious of a need to give support to women  through the intermediary of medium and long-term projects. So much so that the initiatives under the Mulheres do Nosso Bairro project are slated to continue once there is an end to the pandemic, but a pandemic which unfortunately will leave a grave legacy in vulnerable communities where we carry on our operations”, explains the chief administration officer  of ENGIE Brasil Energia, Júlio Cesar Lunardi.

The initiative is to be launched in more than 100 municipalities in 13 states of Brazil, including Florianópolis and contiguous metro region. These are cities in which the Company conducts its business or in areas surrounding any one of its 61 power plants as well as the municipalities which are integral to projects at the installation phase. “This is one more initiative which underscores ENGIE’s social engagement and shows that we are at one with our employees, neighboring communities and society as a whole in confronting this difficult time for the country”, Lunardi comments.

The Mulheres do Nosso Bairro reinforces ENGIE’s adherence to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a UNWomen initiative, and which took place in September 2019. With an investment of approximately $ 1.2 million spread over the years 2020 and 2021, the project is designed to impact 20 thousand women directly and 60 thousand people indirectly, thus contributing to Goal Number 5 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. “ENGIE has taken on board the commitment to encourage the promotion of gender equality, beginning with the number of women in leadership positions. The group’s goal worldwide is to have 50% of all executive positions filled by women in 2030”, says Eduardo Sattamini, chief executive and investor relations officer at ENGIE Brasil Energia.

Public notice for selecting projects 

The Mulheres do Nosso Bairro project is to begin with the publication of a public notice, effective October 16. The focus is on helping enterprises headed up by women involving projects which generate, or which intend to generate income for the communities. The aim of the notice is to select and support with resources those enterprises and initiatives spearheaded by women generating income in the municipalities and as the result of direct intervention by ENGIE. In all, up to 25 projects are to be financed involving existing enterprises or alternatively, ideas for new initiatives or new entrepreneurial activity with amounts from R$ 5 thousand, R$ 10 thousand and R$ 20 thousand.

To register a product or service in the online platform as well as to participate in other actions involving the project, just access the website  www.mulheresdonossobairro.com.br, as from October 16.

Five practical actions

With the aim of promoting diversity of gender in various aspects, Mulheres do Nosso Bairro consists in the execution of five practical initiatives –  using names indicating their purpose to the women: Our Businesses, Our Learning, Our Resources, Our Integrity and Our Health. The Our Businesses initiative provides for the creation of a network of support for very small and small enterprises for the sale of products and services through the  medium of a platform which propagates local businesses offered by the women.

Our Learning is to offer free onsite or online courses to develop new skills and attitudes which will allow the women entrepreneurs to meet the challenges presented by the crisis and develop their skills in management and in the generation of income. In the case of Our Resources, civil society will be asked through a public notice to present ideas/proposals for local businesses which generate incomes for the communities and drive local entrepreneurship. The aim is to select up to 25 projects with financing of R$ 5 thousand, R$ 10 thousand or R$ 20 thousand.

Our Integrity consists of actions such as online webinars to be shown at the Culture Centers or at other venues with access to computers and the internet, with the purpose of increasing perceptions, awareness and informing on violence against women, providing guidance and presenting all the possibilities and support strategies. Finally, Our Health will provide support for the resumption of antenatal  examinations, among other existing support networks and where supply and demand for such services has diminished due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “The idea is that the initiatives should be long-lasting and continue even when the pandemic is over”, Julio notes.

For operationalizing the activities, among others, the project has the backing of partnerships with entities such as the Instituto Maria da Penha, Epagri, Emater, regional and local associations connected to female entrepreneurship as well as Social Assistance and Economic Development secretariats, Culture Centers and the CESTE, Itá and Machadinho, consortia of which ENGIE is a part.