INTI Corp., the firm responsible for the design, engineering, procurement and construction of the nation’s largest solar installation, recently marked another historic milestone, becoming the first in The Bahamas to sign on to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles.
The gender equality initiative is one of INTI Corp’s pillars of corporate responsibility, according to the company’s founder and president, Owen Bethel.
“We at INTI are proud to become a signatory to the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles for multiple reasons. One of those reasons is because it is the right thing to do. It is hard to believe in this age of instant information and AI (artificial intelligence) all around us that we are still talking about a need for gender equality.” Bethel said.
The second motivating factor was more selfish, he confided.
“We recognize that in terms of the success of any venture, you want to draw the best from the widest skilled labour pool,” he noted. “At INTI, we want to identify women engineers, designers, administrators and construction workers and encourage more women to enter the solar space as sustainability, especially in the face of climate change, becomes a greater priority for all.”
Bethel said INTI’s commitment includes equal pay, benefits, opportunities and respect.
“When you see the disparity in pay scales, even today, and how little that has changed in more than 20 years despite all the talk about equality, it is very troubling and we just want to do our part to do the right thing,” he said. Statistics show that women still earn about 84 percent of what men earn in similar positions with the greatest gap in the legal profession. One powerful study by IDB showed what the financial institution called the “feminization of poverty” with about one in four women over 50 showing no income and although women tend to live longer, they also have a greater chance of being poor at an older age.
INTI Corp., a Bahamian company, is the on-the-ground workhorse of two solar farms in Grand Bahama that together will produce up to 9 megawatts of power to be added to the Grand Bahama Power Co. (GBPC). Ground was broken on the first on March 17 in a ceremony hosted by the Grand Bahama Port Authority and attended by dozens of dignitaries, including Cabinet ministers, business and civic leaders, artists, educators, judges and clergy.
Bethel said the gender equality initiative was one of several targets that also included building resilience for the Grand Bahama power supply, reducing dependency on and expenses associated with importation of foreign oil, including cost of foreign exchange, and reduction of the carbon footprint.
It’s also a commitment in keeping with IDB Invest, the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank which funded some 75 percent of the capital or $11 million of the $15 million project that will provide power the equivalent size of 45 football fields.
Grand Bahama Port Authority Chairman Sarah St. George lauded INTI and Lucayas Solar Power Co., which will receive and sell the power to GBPC, for moving The Bahamas in the right direction of sustainable, renewable energy.
“You are truly blazing a trail,” St. George told the crowd gathered at the site where shovels stood at the ready for the groundbreaking. “Grand Bahama is the first in the entire Bahamas to take the bold green mandate to move to 30% renewables by 2030.
“No country can develop without electricity. We don’t have coal or natural gas. What we do have is vast sun photons. Solar also needs large spaces which we do have. This project ticks all the boxes I applaud your gender equality initiative and this project which is a new string in our bow.”