Greater Awareness for Energy Access is Focus for International Women’s Day
Raising awareness among the global gender community that access to energy is a critical driver of gender equality was the focus of Alliance-hosted events recognizing International Women’s Day this year. In many ways, and in multiple global locations, the point was well made that energy access will also help achieve global gender equality goals and targets, and provide immense opportunities for women’s empowerment.
The events took place in parallel with the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) hosted by UN Women, marking the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing+20). This year’s CSW addressed opportunities for achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in the United Nations post-2015 development agenda.
In New York City two events were held in partnership with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and ENERGIA. On March 9, the Alliance and ENERGIA hosted an official CSW parallel event on Health, Livelihood, Gender, and Environmental Benefits of Access to Energy for Women and Girls. The panel featured leading gender and energy experts including Dr. Joy Clancy of ENERGIA, Seemin Qayum of UN Women, Neha Misra of Solar Sister, Lorena Aguilar of IUCN, and Corinne Hart of the Alliance. Panelists highlighted the positive impacts that implementers have seen and shed light on the enabling potential that improving energy access for women and girls can have for broader development aims.
On March 12, the Alliance, ICRW, and ENERGIA hosted an afternoon of panel discussions followed by a reception and technology exhibit, Energy Access as a Key Driver of Gender Equality. Throughout the day, evidence was presented that access to energy is critical for the advancement of women and girls. Attendees learned about the engagement and commitment from a wide range of partners – from government leaders, international NGOs, women’s organizations, donors, multilateral institutions, and energy sector enterprises. Notable speakers included:
- Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson (video statement)
- UN Women Director of Strategic Partnerships, Kristin Hetle
- U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Cathy Russell
- All-China Women’s Federation Director-General of the International Liaison Department, Yongling Chen
- World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender, Caren Grown
- Caterpillar Foundation President, Michele Sullivan
The Alliance also formally celebrated International Women’s Day in Nigeria, Ghana, Bangladesh, and Guatemala through media and special events. In Nigeria, two events showcased the relationship between energy access and gender equality, hosted by the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves on March 11 and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs on March 24, and two articles were featured in local newspapers, Leadership and Businessday. On March 31, the Ghana Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Honorable Minister Hanna Tetteh, will host a panel of experts and a reception to raise awareness of the critical gender gap in the energy sector. This event is also part of the launch of the Alliance’s awareness campaign in Ghana. In Bangladesh, the Alliance published an op-ed in The Daily Star highlighting the impact of energy access on women and the economic opportunities in the clean cooking sector. In Guatemala, El Periodico featured an op-ed on the importance of energy access for women’s empowerment.
Lastly, the Alliance announced three key components of its gender strategy:
- The launch of a study looking at the impact of women entrepreneurs on adoption of clean cookstoves,
- The publication of the Empowered Entrepreneur Handbook, and
- The second round of the Women’s Empowerment Fund.
Each 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 toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We have the evidence, champions, and language needed to make the case to leading government, civil society, and UN partners that energy needs to be woven throughout the post-2015 framework to ensure success and increase gender impacts.