09 September 2013, Pretoria – South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, Eskom Chairman, Zola Tsotsi and Eskom Chief Executive, Brian Dames, marked Eskom’s 90th anniversary by hosting an event aimed at celebrating the participation of women in the science and engineering fields at Eskom’s Megawatt Park offices, Gauteng.
The event is one of several lined up to mark Eskom’s nine decades of community development and empowerment and will be celebrated in all nine provinces.
Emphasising the special role women play in the company and within society at large, the event was graced by women in the science and engineering fields at various state-owned companies, top performing girls from Eskom’s adopted schools, and top performing female Further Education and Training, FET, students from Gauteng.
“We honour and salute the undying spirit of our country’s women, who believed that they were the agents of political, social and economic transformation and who refused to occupy the lower rungs of the struggle and be at the periphery of progressive change.
The courage and bravery of the South African women, their vision and foresight, has ensured that throughout the period of the struggle and during the nineteen years of the liberation of our country, they have occupied an honoured place both in South Africa and beyond. Today’s event is in some way a tribute to them and a continuation of what they stood for and demanded,” said Minister Gigaba.
Minister Gigaba, who has been championing the cause of increasing the number of engineering students at tertiary institutions, is aware of the need for more support for females in these fields.
“South Africa faces a looming crisis in the availability of technically skilled people. When viewed from a racial and gender mix, the crisis is further exacerbated,” asserts Gigaba. In line with Minister Gigaba’s sentiments, Eskom will be launching a Women Advancement engineering programme later this year with specific focus being on women working in the technical environment at power stations and within Eskom’s Distribution division.
The power utility already has more than 2 800 university bursars across the country, and of the 1 700 who are doing technical degrees, 789 are women.
“Our first priority is always to make sure that more than 60% of our annual intake is young women,” said Eskom’s Chairman, Tsotsi.
The company has “adopted” 18 schools from the rural areas that have Mathematics and Science as their major focus, and an added emphasis on women development.
“During the holidays, we also train the teachers from these schools to make sure that they keep up with the latest technology trends. In addition to the school programme, we also host a winter school at the Eskom Academy of Learning for the learners and expose them to the different kinds of careers available in the sector to help them with their subject choices,” explained Tsotsi.
Eskom’s 90th anniversary activities will run until March 2014 under the theme: ‘Powering Your World towards socio-economic development and transformation’.