Khumo Mokheti, the representative of the United State Agency for International Development (USAID), has underscored the importance of gender equality to increased productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

Mokheti, disclosed this at the 2020 D.I.S.C.O for Women Conference, organised by the agency, in partnership with Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC).
The event, Discussing Issues Surrounding Career Opportunities (D.I.S.C.O), was entitled ‘Gender Equality in IBEDC’.
Mokheti, who is also the Change Management Coach for USAID and Tetra-Tech, stated that gender equality and equity had been subjects of debate since the 50s without consensus on its universally-acceptable meaning.
She, however, noted that there was an agreement in terms of the basis, which, she said, was an absence of discrimination on the basis of gender.
Others, according to her, are the provision of equal opportunities for both male and female, while she describes equity as a process, a means to an end in achieving gender parity and a stage of total transformation.
Mokheti said: “Equality is a very important aspect at this stage, as we are heading towards the fourth industrial revolution.
“We require a different set of skills; the revolution is going to require that we bring all our talents and work together, both men and women.
“In the past, there used to be barriers, but now, with advanced technology, the nature of the barriers has changed.
“There are now fewer barriers for women, and what that opens for us is an opportunity for talent; an opportunity to grow and thrive.
“So gender equality is really about bringing the two sex together to focus and build a partnership to ensure that we flourish as a nation and companies.
“To be highly competitive, competent and thrive as a nation, we need to engage all possible talents, men and women, alike.
“We need to start from training girls and boys from home to primary, high school, university and right after they start working. <
“This will ensure that in the pipeline, there is balance and empowerment of men and women to flourish and advance as a country.”
The USAID representative said that women formed 49 per cent of the total population and that if they were not included, the world would be missing 49 per cent of the available talents.
In his address, Engr. John Ayodele, Chief Operating Officer, IBEDC, represented by Mr Deolu Ijose, the Chief Commercial Officer, said that the project had been incubated by USAID since 2016 in form of training and bearing the expenses to engender utilities of the company.
He said: “It was geared towards the promotion of gender equality and at the same time, ensuring that our women have the sense of belonging within the entity to do better.
“For instance in IBEDC, there is a strong gender equality statement and that we will continue to keep.
“That is why USAID is at the forefront of pushing us and assisting us to foster harmony so that we can benchmark ourselves towards best practices worldwide.”
Also, Mrs Ehi Obaseki, the Chief Human Resources Officer, IBEDC, said that the company was moving from gender equality into gender transformation.
She said that the workplace was conducive and that everyone was being treated fairly and equally, regardless of gender.
According to Obaseki, efforts are being geared towards ensuring that women grow in their career paths.
“I really hope that we will have the support of the employees to see that we achieve all the aims and objectives of our gender programmes,” she said.
NAN reports that the event featured the launch of Gender Mentoring Programme as well as a panel session, which addressed issues of productivity, sexual harassment, balancing as well as growth in the workplace.
NAN also reports that the conference was occasioned by the agreement signed in 2016, called Engendering Utilities Projects, which led to the first Disco Conference in that year.