Renewable energy is likely to empower women economically

Renewable energy is one of the key sectors that can help handle gender equality, especially in developing countries. This is according to the UNEP (UN Environmental Program) report. UNEP says that by 2030, 60% of the electricity will be from renewable energy sources. New and innovative technologies to deliver renewable energy have started to materialize, and vulnerable communities and women have begun to gain economic freedoms.

Speaking to Insider, Annette Wallgren, gender and climate’s program management officer at the Asia and the Pacific office for the UN Environment Program, said that almost 1/10 of people in Asia and the Pacific do not have electricity in their homes for lighting, heating, cooking, or refrigerating their food. The majority depend on biomass. She added that renewable energy technologies could help poor communities access power. Annette said that renewable energy would also open opportunities for small and medium-scale businesses, helping reduce poverty. She added another benefit that may come from renewable energy is public health improvement by enhancing access to clean water, lighting, and sanitation. This will help reduce air pollution and save time that is used in collecting household fuel.

Annette said that climate change is adversely affecting many households in the Pacific and Asia. This is because food from farms is decreasing, and anglers are catching fewer fishes. Food storages are not spared either since they are destroyed by floods, drought, and rise in sea levels. She said some of these problems could be solved by renewable energy. Clean, reliable bioenergy can be used to power pumps for irrigation and other post-harvest facilities.

Annette said that renewable energy would help transform women’s lives in Asia and the Pacific region. She said renewables would help women have entrepreneurship opportunities like vegetable farming, handicrafts, or growing other types of crops, which was not achievable there before. Renewable energy would also help to release women off some burdens. For instance, in Cambodia, women usually take more than three hours a day collecting firewood for cooking. This time can be used doing other things like economic empowerment instead of fetching firewood.

Annette said that women are energy managers and main power consumers; hence they understand and know the household’s needs better. However, they are not given any opportunity in renewable energy programs or policymaking. Therefore, women should be allowed to take part as policymakers and make decisions to better the energy sector. Annette said that UNEP, together with the EmPower project funded by Sweden, ensures all women are using renewable energy for climate-resilient and promote communities’ ability to fight climate change.