Accessible, sustainable energy has the power to change the world. Beyond the vital part clean energy can play on a global scale, it’s also critical to women’s development and well-being locally. Agriculture, education, health, and safety are all positively impacted when people have access to clean, affordable energy solutions. Let’s explore how.
Women are typically the primary users of household energy on a global level. Their activities are centered around cooking, caring for the home, and raising children. Think of how much energy we use to run a household- fans, air conditioners, heaters, televisions, kitchen gadgets, washing machines, dryers, dish washers, lights, and computers. Now imagine not even having access to enough energy to cook a meal. This is a reality in many areas of the world, primarily Asia and Africa.
Health and Well-Being
Women spend a huge part of their day collecting water and gathering wood for cooking and heating. 2.4 billion people worldwide use traditional heating/cooking methods. Spending long hours indoors with traditional wood-burning stoves leads to heath issues, including lung disease and eye infections. These problems are also passed down to children, as they become involved in household chores. If women were given access to clean energy or clean cook stoves, not only would their health and well-being improve, but they would also have more time for economically beneficial activities.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 70% of “economically-active women” in developing countries work in agriculture, but their potential is severely limited by the lack of access to clean energy and water. By offering sustainable solutions such as solar-powered drop irrigation systems, productivity would skyrocket!
Safety of Property and Livestock
In an African village called Naiputa, female farmers worry about their cattle and property at night. They would often sleep outside in the cold or have their children do the same in order to scare off any predators – both unsafe and uncomfortable. When Green Energy Africa provided the village with solar panels, lights, and rechargeable batteries, their lives changed dramatically. In fact, women are leading the solar revolution here, and even though they are not allowed to own land, they are allowed to own this technology. This is empowering them, keeping their property and cattle safe, and saving them money.
Children may be denied an education if they are expected to help with household and farm duties. Even the children who are able to go to school must light fires at night to complete their school work, filling their homes and little eyes with smoke. With solar lamps hanging around their homes, they are able to finish work in a healthier way. On a grander scale, girls and women are able to further their education if their time is not occupied with searching for clean energy sources for cooking and heating their homes. In Sierra Leone, a group of women are leading a solar revolution in their rural communities – a big undertaking since Sierra Leone is not connected to the grid. These women, who used to be farmers, traveled to a school in Tilonia, Rajasthan, in western India to learn how to produce and sell solar technology. From young women to grandmothers, women are furthering their education, with an excellent opportunity to work for their people Learn more about this school here: http://www.barefootcollege.org/.
Solar-powered lights in rural villages protect anyone walking or traveling after the sun goes down. While being outside after dark in such places is usually discouraged, sometimes it is necessary, and no one should fear for their lives in such situations. As an added benefit, women take charge of the solar industry in their areas; they are earning their own income. By being able to take care of themselves financially, empowering them to protect themselves (and consequently, their daughters) from abusive or hostile relationships or being married off too young. They are becoming more capable of making their own decisions and live their lives independently.
Solar power is empowering women around the world, and we are proud to be part of an industry leading the way to a better life. We are on the path to help provide energy solutions, independence, and sustainability, would love to bring some health and happiness to your home and community as well!
Featured image by ywammadison/Flickr