The second annual Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) forum took place from 18-21 May 2015 in New York. This year, gender and women were significantly present on the agenda as a milestone in the Global Campaign on Energy, Women, Children and Health. From the multi-stakeholder sessions early in the week, all the way through to the ministerial dialogues in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations, many different aspects of the gender and energy nexus were discussed. Women were cited not only as the victims of the ills of the use of traditional energy sources but also as a viable solution to scaling up energy access.
During the Gender-Informed Business Models session co-organised by ENERGIA and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC), panellists agreed that the role of women goes beyond being users of energy services to being change agents in energy access: in selling, maintaining and financing energy products and services. In her intervention, Corinne Hart from the GACC noted that gender-informed approaches have been shown to reach consumers better, support women in the value chain, and enhance the overall adoption and effectiveness of energy solutions.
One of the most inspiring interventions during this session was by Josephine Ngumba, an entrepreneur from Kenya. Ms. Ngumba owns a small charcoal briquette production business and shared her experiences with the participants. "I grew up in the village. So, I know what it takes to go to the woods to get firewood, to carry it on your back, how much time it takes. There is gender violence in the bushes. There is time wasted. Children don't have an afternoon to study. So it means so much. And when a woman knocks on my door at night and she tells me, 'I do not have energy, sell me your briquettes', which are now cleaner and more affordable, and now she can cook very fast and now she will have a meal. That is my job, it makes me so happy."
During the High-Level Panel on Energy, Women’s and Children’s Health, Gill Tudor, Chief of Communications and Outreach, SE4All, opened the session with the global launch of the ‘Clean Energy is Life’ campaign video, which depicts a woman coughing while cooking over firewood in a smoke-filled hut to illustrate the urgent need for action.
On the last day of the event, more than 70 commitments to Sustainable Energy for All were publicly announced by SE4All partners, many of which included actions aimed at women's empowerment. Such as:
The UK government's pledge to support a new green mini-grids in Africa programme to provide clean and safe energy access to one million people in Kenya and Tanzania, and supporting work to bring sustainable power to clinics in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on improving maternal and neonatal health.
The Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) in close cooperation with partners has supported the development of the first regional gender and energy policy (i.e. the “ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access) to address energy challenges through gender responsive measures.
Solar Sister committed to expanding its network from 1,000 to 5,000 women entrepreneurs over the next five years to bring light, hope and opportunity to over 10 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kopernik through their Wonder Women Initiative, committed to train 500 additional women to connect live-altering technologies to over 250,000 people in eastern Indonesia by 2017.
Through its Gender Equality for Climate Change Opportunities (GECCO) initiative, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will support approaches that bring gender perspectives into large-scale energy infrastructure and clean investment tools, low-emission development strategies, and nationally appropriate mitigation actions.
Practical Action committed to ensuring equitable access to energy technology, and advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through its work. As an example, in Kenya, the organization is working with women entrepreneurs across three renewable energy value chains (Improved Cookstoves; Solar; and Briquettes) to address barriers they face in expanding their businesses.
ENERGIA committed 15 million euro over the next five years to programmes providing technical and financial assistance in Asia and Africa, an empirical research programme focused on the value added by having a gender perspective in energy investment and a roll out of national level public awareness campaigns to four million people in Asia and Africa.