A new public awareness campaign dubbed Women Economic Empowerment Works (WEEWORKS) has been launched to rally stakeholders to include women in conversations about their energy needs and equip them with skills to profitably engage in energy enterprises for accelerated economic growth.
Designed by Practical Action, an international development agency that equips vulnerable communities to use available resources (technologies) to improve their lives, the campaign draws lessons from the organizations project which is working with over 700 women entrepreneurs in the biomass briquette, solar and improved cookstoves value chains to demonstrate the role that energy plays in empowering women economically, leading to a higher quality of life.
The three year project that is being implemented in partnership with SCODE (Sustainable Community Development Services), and with support from ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Energy, has so far reached over 495,000 beneficiaries in seven counties in Kenya.
“This forum has been necessitated by the realization that energy access is a reflection of the level of development of a society. In Kenya energy access is still very low with significant gender inequalities. Despite being more than 50% of the population, women in Kenya have remained excluded from energy projects development and in many cases they are not targeted in technical training or financing.”noted Lydia Muchiri, Senior Gender and Energy Advisor at Practical Action Eastern Africa Regional Office
Ministry of Energy’s Principle Renewable Energy Officer Mr John Maina delivered the keynote address at the launch event. In his remarks, Mr. Maina emphasized on the governments commitment to enhancing participation of women in energy planning and delivery, and prioritized high impact opportunities (HIO) and initiatives on energy, women, children and health in its key policy and planning documents. This includes the use of modern cooking appliances and fuels to improve indoor air quality and reduce drudgery.”
Ms Lilian Ogombo, Chief Officer – Energy and Mining, County Government of Kisumu shared the County perspective on the importance of mainstreaming gender by including it in the key energy policy and planning documents. This has seen women in Kisumu involved in thriving energy led businesses.
“Two key initiatives we can cite include using the Women’s table banking groups to finance energy enterprises up to a tune of Kshs 3Million, as well as lighting the market places with flood lights to extend the women’s market hours which ensures they trade longer and earn more money,” she added.
Energy sector research reveals that even though women interact with energy on daily basis, they hardly see it as key economic opportunity. In addition, women-led energy enterprises are less likely to grow and scale up compared to male-led energy enterprises.
“Practical Action has been delivering technology as its niche in the region for over 25 years, the WEEWORKS campaign is central to our work in advocating for universal access to energy, we believe that we can achieve more for the sector if we collaborate and Plug In WEE for greater impact.”
The WEEWORKS campaign was launched against the backdrop of the International Women’s Day whose 2017 theme is Be Bold for Change. The event attracted key stakeholders in the sector including like-minded partners and individuals including World Bank’s Lighting Africa, wPower, Energy4Impact, HIVOS and Global Alliance for Clean Cooking (GACC).
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