Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Women Take Control of Solar Revolution

The solar revolution is reaching the remotest parts of the world and changing the lives of women otherwise trapped in poverty.

Empower Generation helps rural women affected by energy poverty to become solar entrepreneurs. (Image Credit: Empower Generation) Click to Enlarge.
A solar revolution is transforming the lives of women in the remotest parts of Asia.  They no longer have to wait decades to be connected to a power grid but are able today to exploit the huge potential of the abundant sunshine.

In societies where women normally play a subservient role and spend much of their time on menial chores, solar businesses are creating a new breed of female entrepreneur who are bringing electricity to their villages.

In the last two years two schemes designed to encourage women to bring the solar revolution to parts of rural India and Nepal have won international Ashden Awards, which bring the organisations involved £20,000 (US$26,360) each in prize money and a lot of guidance to improve and extend their businesses.

The 2017 winner of the Ashden Award for clean energy for women and girls, Empower Generation, has enabled 23 women in Nepal to set up clean energy businesses and manage a network of 259 sales agents.  They in turn gain a commission on sales of solar panels, lights, clean cooking stoves, and water filters.

In a country where all but 12% of women are engaged in farm work, Empower Generation’s staff are now able to lead their communities out of energy poverty.  Overcoming family and cultural resistance, they are developing leadership skills and setting up businesses employing women and also men as agents.

For customers who have no chance of a grid connection, solar lanterns and solar home systems bring clean electric light and ’phone charging, often for the first time.  Even those who are connected to the grid use the products as a back-up during the frequent blackouts, or for attending to crops and animals after dark. 

Customers include both local families and NGOs, many of which are working on programs initiated as a response to the 2015 earthquake.

The scheme is designed to build women’s confidence in themselves and their ability to run their own affairs and manage their finances.  It also helps reduce the use of kerosene and therefore air pollution.

Read more at Women Take Control of Solar Revolution

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