Energy’s key role in gender equality

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by Teresa López

The International Women’s Day is a good opportunity to remind us how much work there is left to do regarding gender equality, and all the different fields in which it should be tackled worldwide.

Having equal opportunities regardless of your gender is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a prosperous world. Indeed, achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls is one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

And what does energy have to do with it? Quite a lot, as gender inequality is closely linked to poverty, and energy poverty is one of those conditions that, due to gender-related social roles, especially affects women.

It can be about collecting water to irrigate the crops or firewood to be able to cook. When a household does not have access to electricity (about 20% worldwide according to Forbes Energy), the work that is given to women becomes so time-consuming that it does not allow them any other activity – be it studying, working outside home or socializing.

In addition, some of the energy sources they are using today -like kerosene lamps and open biomass fires- are highly dangerous for health. Let alone the fact that the healthcare in areas without electricity is very limited.

Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is other of the Sustainable Development Goals. EKOenergy’s Climate Fund is working hard to achieve it through promoting sustainable growth in impoverished communities.

In 2017, EKOenergy funded a project to install solar pumps in a village in southern Senegal and eased the tough agricultural work women were doing manually. We also funded the installation of solar panels in a village in Sudan, that made tasks like grain grinding faster and safer for women, and we made education more accessible for girls in Madagascar by installing solar panels on rural schools.

Unfortunately, tackling energy poverty will not immediately solve the unequal positions of men and women in all countries, but it does give women a better and safer scenario to start from. That is also why energy access projects should always be implemented together with female empowerment initiatives, as EKOenergy does.

In EKOenergy we know that global sustainable development and equality are challenging goals, but we are ready to address them comprehensively and together!