International Leaders Highlight Energy Access as Critical for Gender Equality
Last week the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, ENERGIA, and the International Center for the Research on Women held an event on Energy Access as a Key Driver of Gender Equality. This event was held in New York City as part of the Commission on the Status of Women to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The discussions throughout the day were incredibly powerful. We heard from government leaders, international NGOs, women’s organizations, donors, multilateral institutions, and energy sector enterprises about the evidence that access to energy is critical for the advancement of women and girls and learned how quickly this evidence is being applied and implemented by a wide range of partners. Their work is truly growing and moving this market.
Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, opened the event with a video statement urging us all to prioritize and focus on access to energy as a core part of our gender equality work. Leaders in the women’s rights community like Kristin Hetle from UN Women, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell, and Yongling Chen from the All-China Women’s Federation outlined the main reasons that governments and agencies focused on the advancement of women and girls must prioritize this issue. And we heard from donors like Michele Sullivan, the President of the Caterpillar Foundation, about their strategy for increasing access to energy and empowering women and girls at every level in order to catalyze progress. She emphasized that they believe that by focusing on women and girls, they will be able to make the greatest difference.
The Alliance also announced the release of three key components of its gender strategy – the results of a recent study demonstrating the impact of women entrepreneurs on adoption of clean cookstoves, the Empowered Entrepreneur Handbook, and the second round of the Women’s Empowerment Fund. ENERGIA discussed its recently launched Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Energy Access (WE) Programme and its commitment to provide modern energy services to 2 million poor and difficult to reach consumers through women’s small and micro energy enterprises by 2017.
This event highlighted the critical need for us all to be advocates for energy access in our work to empower women and girls. This year is critical as we work towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We have the evidence, champions, and effective approaches required to make the case that we need a measurable, well-financed, and implementable Goal 7 (to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all) and that energy needs to be woven throughout the post-2015 framework to ensure success and increase gender impacts.