A group of women trained as solar engineers are installing solar power in homes and schools in Lilongwe, Malawi. Called the Solar Mamas, they are made up of eight older women and have brought solar power to over 200 households in villages surrounding Lilongwe. With this extra power, students are able to attend classes or do work at the school in the early mornings and evenings, while it is dark outside. Solar power in homes makes charging phones and batteries more accessible. The Solar Mamas are also training the youth in solar engineering to pass on their knowledge. Photo Credit: Lameck Masina
Pregnant women in Kenya are at a high risk of maternal and infant mortality due to a lack of access to hospital care. Power outages in hospitals affect vaccine storage and prevent usage of the necessary technology to resuscitate newborns and provide other life-saving care that is tied to the grid. The Maternal and Newborn Improvement Project installed solar panels on 33 health care facilities to serve as backup power. Nurse Emily Wamalwa, in Bungoma County, is now able to use solar energy when the power goes out to keep incubators and fridges running, saving the lives of babies and mothers. Photo Credit: Video Capture
Ocasio-Cortez Demands Solar Company Rehire Workers Fired After Unionizing With Green New Deal in Mind
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the lead sponsor of the Green New Deal, which includes pro-justice and worker provisions in its effort to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. The need for these provisions became evident when twelve workers were fired from Bright Power, a solar energy company, after stating their intent to unionize. Ocasio-Cortez demands that Bright Power be held accountable and re-hire these twelve workers. She recognizes the danger of oil barons becoming renewable energy barons and continuing to exploit workers, regardless of the seemingly progressive purpose of their company. The Sunrise Movement and Senator Bernie Sanders also voiced their agreement with Ocasio-Cortez. Photo Credit: Bill Clark
When Kristen Nicole, founder of Women in Solar Energy, penned an open letter calling out the hyper-masculine and ‘booth babe’ culture that portrayed women as sex objects, it sparked a revolution within the industry to start examining their women-specific policies and initiatives. The solar conference culture perpetuates objectification with abhorrent displays such as women in cages dressed in leather cat outfits. However, numerous programs aimed at addressing gender diversity and increasing women’s participation in the field have grown in response. SEIA’s Women Empowerment Initiative as well as Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy campaigns have contributed to the shift in the awareness around the need for diversity. Whilst more female workers make up the solar industry today, and there are more women speakers at conferences, there are still shortcomings in that women continue to earn less than men and face barriers in climbing up the career ladder. Women of colour are also disproportionately affected, and Erica Mackie, co-founder and CEO of GRID Alternatives, calls for the solar industry to not just be energy-centred but also justice-focussed, and to recognise the intersection between race and gender inequities. GRID’s Women in Solar Program aids women from diverse backgrounds and their She Shines retreat is aimed as a training and team-building exercise for women in the industry. Photo credit: Stefano Paltera, US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon
Emily Satterwhite detained the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for 14 hours by chaining herself to a backhoe. She is an active part of Appalachians Against Pipelines, defending the mountains and forests in West Virginia. In this interview, she discusses the role of lobbyists, the influence of corporate interest, and the struggle to keep fracking pipelines outside of the state. She refutes many myths regarding pipelines, emphasizing that Dominion Energy and it’s investors are profiting, but there is no benefit for West Virginians.Photo Credit: Thunderdomepolitics.com
Diana Mbogo and Margaretha Subekti are two female entrepreneurs expanding energy access and transforming daily life for their local communities in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and West Manggarai, Indonesia, respectively. In Dar es Salaam, where power outages are a persistent issue, Mbogo provides technical assistance and sells small-scale energy solutions to residents interested in renewable energy through her company Millennium Engineers. She is driven by the fact that energy is the backbone of development. In West Manggarai, Subekti empowers rural women and encourage sustainability through multiple people-centered businesses that she has founded. As a beneficiary and now leader of Kopernik’s Wonder Women program, she manages and supports over thirty women implementing recycling/upcycling projects and selling clean energy products in the community to foster economic independence. Additionally, Subekti’s Rumah Pintar offers community and guidance to neighborhood women and children and her local coffee shop maintains a strong business model of supporting local farmers.
Across the world, most notably in developing Asian countries and sub-Saharan Africa, roughly 1.2 billion people do not have access to reliable energy. A lack of energy sources is directly related to global poverty, and it has been estimated that 70 percent of the world’s poorest are female. Because women, particularly in Asia and Africa, are tasked with feeding and caring for their families, experts maintain that energy access and poverty must be examined through a gendered lens. Indeed, when energy sources are not readily available, women are often tasked with either walking miles to find wood or purchasing cheap kerosene lamps despite their documented health and safety risks. The links become clearer still once energy and health care are considered. Across the world, an estimated 800 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing countries, and a lack of energy access only exacerbates the problem. Several entrepreneurial groups led by women, such as Solar Sisters, have been bringing light and empowerment to some of Tanzania’s most rural villages and becoming community leaders in the process. Photo credit: Various Pressures & Simon Black
Rosemary Lytle and Melanie Santiago-Mosier are two women of color leading in the NAACP and Vote Solar who are calling for greater diversity in the solar industry. An industry crippled with regards to equitable access to employment and economic opportunities, studies show that companies that hire diversely, perform better financially. And despite solar employment being twice what it was in 2010, women and people of color are less likely to earn executive level wages and be satisfied with their current position with half of African Americans feel stuck with respect to their mobility in the career ladder. With the very premise of the solar industry painting a better way forward, progress towards a diverse workforce can be made through equitable hiring practices. Other efforts involve adopting best practices when recruiting, creating a culture of inclusion, and allowing space for professional development. Community programs also aid in making the solar industry more accessible with the NAACP Power Up program allowing the incarcerated to break out of recidivism through solar job training and placement. Photo credit: Grid Alternatives
Jing Jing He is a community organizer with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), helping to uplift the voices of Asian immigrant communities in Oakland and Richmond, California. Due to her work as a fierce female leader championing renewable energy and jobs in her community, she was recognized by the national 100% Campaign and received a billboard in her honor. Photo credit: 100isNow
Steph Speirs founded Solstice with the vision of democratizing access to clean energy through community solar panels. With about 80 percent of Americans unable to install rooftop solar—whether it be due to building ownership, rooftop conditions, or cost barriers—she hopes to facilitate access to security, dignity, and opportunity by establishing an online marketplace for shares of neighborhood-based solar farms. Photo credit: Sierra Club
In this article, policy leaders Brooke Harper and Nicole Sitaraman outline the urgent need to realize Maryland’s clean energy future. They describe how access to clean energy, such as rooftop solar, offers an economic boost through energy savings and job opportunities as well as significant public health benefits and reduced healthcare costs. These benefits are in stark contrast to the high risks of asthma and cancer in African American communities due to disproportionate siting of oil and gas power plants. They go on to describe the year-long Solar Equity Initiative to facilitate this economic opportunity by providing workforce training, solar installations, and policy advocacy. Photo credit: Courtesy photos/LinkedIn
Felicia Davis, Malissa “Mali” Hunter, and the Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley are the “Atlanta Power Women” - recently honored with billboards by ATL100, a national campaign celebrating clean energy leaders with equitable visions for the future. Davis directs Clark Atlanta University’s Building Green Initiative, which advances carbon-reducing strategies across historically black colleges and universities across the nation. Hunter promotes healthy eating and renewable energy as a chef and partner of Tree Sound Studios. As executive director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light, McGregor Mosley helps the faith community reduce its carbon footprint. Photo credit: Itoro Umontuen
Women who have studied and experienced a lack of female representation in the energy industry describe how the gender imbalance is inhibiting a robust, low-carbon energy transition. In fact, 67 percent of UK energy companies have men-only boards, industry events and critical discussions often exclude female voices, and women who claim executive positions may face sexual harassment. In light of these issues, Professor Catherine Mitchell of the University of Exeter organized an event with women-only panels to highlight the poor gender diversity and need for female leaders in energy. Photo credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Sally Nyakanyanga, an independent journalist based in Zimbabwe, profiles the positive impact of rural electrification on women’s healthcare in the town of Masvingo, Zimbabwe. Oxfam Zimbabwe helped install a water pump and solar system at the Mazuru clinic, which has enabled better vaccine storage, uninterrupted medical technology use, and basic lighting. Juliet Chasamuka is among thousands of Mupandawana women who can now depend on reliable prenatal and postnatal care through energy access. Photo credit: Sally Nyakanyanga
For over eight years, Kristen Graf has served as the executive director of Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), formerly Women of Wind Energy (WOWE), empowering women in the renewable energy industry. Graf and WRISE have been instrumental in building community and fostering leadership to chart a path for women’s advancement and the industry’s success. Photo credit: WRISE
The global photovoltaic industry required hard work and dedication, especially during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s when the solar struggle in surviving as an industry needed the conviction of those working within it that it would one day lead the future of energy generation. The photovoltaic industry would not have come as far without the perseverance of eight key women who were fundamental in pioneering the solar scene of today. Izumi Kaizuka from Japan is an awardee of one of the most prestigious scientific awards in the global photovoltaic industry, the PVSEC Special Award, for her contributions in the study of solar technologies, business models and deployment. Renate Egan from Australia is crucial to the solar industry for her ability to match creative with the technical and leads the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics. Darlene McCalmont from the United States is founder of Regrid Power and currently runs a McCalmont Engineering. Nicola Pearsall from the UK is the director of the Northumbria Photovoltaics Applications Centre and leads its Energy Systems research group. These women, amongst the others highlighted in the article, have extensive resumes, but their accomplishments are not the most defining feature of these influential figures. Rather it is their deep passion and commitment that they have dedicated to the global photovoltaic industry that sees their contribution as long-lasting and meaningful. Photo credit: Pixabay
Melina Laboucan-Massimo, member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation and leader of Lubicon Solar grew up in Little Buffalo, Alberta, a witness to the damaging impacts of the tar sands oil industry on the land and her community, including the observation that people in her community were trapped into cycles of working for the very companies undermining their health and futures. Her experiences inspired her to begin to envision a post-oil economy for her community and Indigenous peoples across the region, founding the community-run Pîtâpan Solar site and Lubicon Solar project. Photo Credit: Melina Laboucan Massimo
Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, woman leader and head of UTIER, the electrical workers’ union in Puerto Rico, speaks with Democracy Now! following intense 2017 hurricanes, calling for a community owned, just renewable energy transition as the island looks to rebuild and find health and justice following intensive 2017 hurricanes. The community-centered plans she puts forth contrast with proposals by international entrepreneur Elon Musk, to provide centralized and privatized solar systems. Tisha Pastor, owner of a 100% renewable bed and breakfast hotel, also adds into the report, demonstrating the resiliency of her business in standing through recent climate disasters, to be a place of refuge for the surrounding area. Photo credit: Democracy Now!
Indigenous women from across Canada refuse to wait for the Canadian government or courts to determine their own fate and the future of their children. And thus, a small but potent contingent of self-determining woman are uniting to provide solutions to climate change in the form of tiny homes, solar panels, and activism. This sisterhood forms at a time when fossil fuel companies, the Canadian government, and Indigenous rights are battling over the legality and ethics of the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. Many women’s voices are represented in this story by the National Observer, including Melina Laboucan-Massimo (Indigenous rights educator and founder of Lubicon Solar), Anushka Azadi, Karissa Glenda, Kanahus Manuel (Secwepenc Indigenous rights advocate, birth worker, and one of the primary tiny homes warriors), Cedar George-Parker (Tsleil-Waututh Nation), and Anushka Azadi. Photo credit: National Observer
Heather Milton-Lightening is an Indigenous woman leader from Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan, who is trying to raise awareness among Indigenous communities of climate change and the lack of a just transition to a green economy, through her activity with Indigenous Climate Action. She says that when communities are facing many other pressing problems, such as poverty, they are less involved in the transition to clean energy. Photo credit: Brandi Morin/CBC
In this article, Vien Truong, CEO of Dream Corps, mobilizes mothers across the United States to use their economic and political clout to amplify the grassroots green movement and build clean, healthy communities. She advocates for strategies such as renewable energy, clean transportation, and female representation in government offices to eliminate pollution and the severe health impacts 0f fossil fuels. Photo credit: Dream Corps
Gitanjali Rao, 11, was horrified upon learning about the continued drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In response, she invented a device using carbon nanotubes and a smartphone app that will allow residents to test their drinking water for lead quickly. For her efforts, she was awarded the title of "America's Top Young Scientist." Photo credit: Bharathi Rao
Women in Global South countries are taking a leading role in rural electrification using solar energy, through their efforts achieving economic independence and implementing sustainable solutions in their communities. With the support of Greenpeace, initiatives are growing including solar cooking trainings in Morocco and women-run solar cooperatives such as South Lebanon’s Deir Kanoun Ras el Ain project. Photo credit: SELCO/IPS
Women and people of color make-up a low percentage of workers in the renewable energy industry. Though minorities can be found, they are primarily concentrated in administration, engineering, and technical departments. To increase the amount of women in the industry, Kristen Graf, the Executive Director of Women of Wind Energy founded Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE). She is determined to increase the number of women in the renewable energy field by supporting educational and training opportunities for women. Poor workplace diversity is not unique to the clean energy field, but is also seen throughout the green movement. It’s clear more work needs must be done to increase accessibility, inclusion, and equity in environmental fields to develop a diversified labor pool. Photo Credit: Grid Alternatives
This article from 1 Million Women presents results on research about low-energy houses as opposed to regular houses, which take up a lot of energy and are a great factor of global carbon emissions. Specifically, it analyses the Lochiel Park Green Village in the South of Australia, a neighborhood of 103 zero-energy houses. Among the results are the significant health improvements on the people living in these sustainable homes, including a decision to quit smoking cigarettes by a woman living in one of the environmentally-friendly places. The advantages are also economic, as not having to pay energy bills saves a great amount of money for the residents. Photo credit: 1 Million Women
Women constitute a very small section of the energy sector in Canada. Though this presents a challenge, it also represents an opportunity to train and recruit women and minorities to the green economy. As Canada is transiting from fossil fuels to a green economy, it needs a substantial policy that covers the gender gap and supports a healthy work-life balance. Photo credit: The Leap
Indigenous environmental leaders Faith Gemmill of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), Fawn Sharp of the Quinault Indian Nation in Washington State, Kandi Mosset of the Indigenous Environmental Network, and Wahleah Johns of Native Renewables and the Black Mesa Water Coalition are among the many Indigenous women in North America combatting climate change by advocating for renewable energy and resisting fossil fuel dependence. Photo credit: Molly Adams
Martina Caballero, Lucia Montezuma, Ovidia Caballero, and Agripina Montezuma are powering their rural hometown of Punta Burica, Costa Rica, with solar energy. Through a government scholarship in 2016, they studied solar engineering at India’s Barefoot College and have joined over 150 women from 28 countries who have received university training and gone on to bring electricity to their hometowns. Photo credit: Barefoot College
Cree leader Melina Laboucan-Massimo has dedicated her life to protecting Indigenous communities in Canada. Over the past ten years, she has fought against fossil fuel infrastructure and implemented renewable energy projects with Greenpeace Canada and the Indigenous Environmental Network. Now, as the David Suzuki Foundation’s first Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change fellow, she directs research on potential Indigenous-led climate solutions. Photo credit: David Suzuki Foundation
The Ambar Mosque, a women-led faith center recognized for the promotion of women’s rights, recently installed solar panels in hopes of inspiring the adoption of renewable technology across the state of Uttar Pradesh. The spread of solar technology is making the cost of solar energy more competitive when compared to coal, thanks to the pioneering women at the Ambar Mosque. Photo credit: Climate Home
Daniela Orozco noticed the rising homeless population in her low-income community of San Fernando, Los Angeles. In response, she and a group of friends invented a solar powered tent that rolls up into a backpack. Self-taught using the internet, the girls spent one year, working 6 days a week, on this project with the $10,000 grant they won from Lemelson-MIT. They were recruited by DIY Girls, which was founded in 2012 to address the lack of STEM education in schools for girls from low-income communities. Executive director, Evelyn Gomez, notes the lack of Latina and Hispanic women in STEM fields, as they make up only 6% of working scientists and engineers. The girls from San Fernando hope their story will act as an inspiration for other girls. Photo credit: Mashable
Maasai women are at the forefront of their villages’ new use of renewable energy from solar panels and clean cookstoves, changing their traditional domestic roles and empowering themselves as community leaders. The Maasai villages are marginalized nomadic tribes located in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. An international collaboration called Maasai Stoves and Solar Project introduced the idea of new and clean energy for the stoves through solar panels, training women to be in charge of this transition and new installations. Kisioki Moitiko, the manager for the project in Tanzania, explains how the groups of women work and that each group chooses their own leaders; for example, Leah Laiza manages the workflow for her group, and Esupat Loseku is in charge of installing the new stoves and solar panels with her group. These efforts have diminished air pollution and improved people’s health. Men of the community, who used to guard their cattle from wild animals at night, can light the enclosures at night instead of standing watch, enabling them to spend more time at home with their families. Photo credit: Christabel Ligami
Valentina Tiem is a Renewable Energy Entrepreneur who works in Haidom Village of the Manyara Region in Tanzania. Valentina believes that women should know how to manage their financial lives, and work with energy systems, as women are producers of future generation. Valentina has been successful in pursuing people to use renewable energy in her region, primarily because she has used her knowledge and trust and community relationships as a traditional midwife to connect with and educate her community members about the negative impacts of fuels on their health, and positive impacts of using solar energy. Photo Credit: Solar Sister
Gita Pariyar is a formidable leader in Nepal. As a local business owner, community health worker, and ward member, Pariyar is committed to helping her community in Taklung, Gorkha District, through access to clean technologies, such as cookstoves and solar products. She is also a part of the Dalit caste, often called the “untouchables,” and dedicates her work to transforming perceptions of caste members and empowering other Dalit women. Photo credit: Empower Generation
Climate change-induced heatwaves are increasing across India, endangering millions of lives and livelihoods. In response, groups such as the Mahila Housing Trust, are working with women in 100 slums across five cities to experiment with low-cost approaches to cooling homes using reflective paint and other simple methods to reduce the direct impacts being felt by marginalized and impoverished residents. Photo Credit: Mahila Housing Trust, Pixabay
The country of Benin in West Africa, is increasingly facing intense climatic changes in the already existing six-month dry season. The agriculture in districts such as Alibori are highly dependent on rainfall for food production. Therefore, to address this increasing intensity of climatic variations, 400 women from the district of Alibori have established Solar Market Gardens, where they can source a sustainable energy through solar charged water pumps and drip irrigation which allows the women to use the resources economically. This establishment has allowed for various social innovations, in turn, guaranteeing 185,000 people with access to renewable energy and stable crop production. This led the women to win “Women for Results” Climate Prize awarded by UNFCCC. Photo Credit: The Ecologist
In Gujarat, India, women typically set aside 40% of their household income to buy diesel to power salt-producing pumps. A program designed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and India’s Self Employed Women’s Association has improved access to solar-powered pumps. The new technology has proven to be less expensive and more accessible and, as a result, many women and their families now have a more reliable source of income. Photo credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
Women are at the forefront of the fight against climate change and the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Kris Mayes is co-author to the renewable portfolio standards of Arizona, which requires the increasing adoption of renewable energy sources. Lorena Aguilar is global senior gender adviser to International Union for Conservation of Nature and advocates for the integration of women in the renewable sector. Suzanne Bertin, as executive director of the Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance, explains the various opportunities for women in a field dominated by men and encourages female participation.
Kelly Charley, a student at the Navajo Preparatory School, has developed a solar heater that is helping bring solar energy to Navajo households. Seeing her grandparents laboriously chop wood and use harmful coal for energy inspired her to find a way to bring renewable energy to Navajo homes. Read her story and get inspired by watching this video about her quest for a just and sustainable way of life. Photo credit: Fusion
Hailing from Rexford, Montana, Jessica Kilroy is a fearless rope-access technician who braves high winds and heights of 262 to 328 feet to keep the global wind industry in operation. Kilroy entered this line of work when brainstorming how to leverage her rock-climbing skills to support conservation efforts. She has been with Rope Partners for five years now and is one of only two women out of the company’s 75 technicians. Photo credit: Jeff Singer
Jackie Weidman recognizes that an essential component of clean energy leadership is the participation of young people. In response, she began to recruit, train, and network a talented group of young professionals, which developed into the Clean Energy Leadership Institute. The Institute has already trained over 150 young energy leaders and is moving nationwide. Photo credit: Grist50!
Many families in Nepal struggle to grow crops during the dry season, in spite of available underground water resources. The Water Lands and Ecosystems CGIAR research programme examined the possibility of creating solar pumps to enable farmers to access the groundwater. Many women farmers benefited took advantage of the benefits of the project, which aims at expanding its reach to other rural areas. Photo credit: Thomas Reuters Foundation
Though American politics has recently become more hostile toward the renewable energy transition, women’s groups are bravely forging a path toward a renewable energy economy. One of these groups is Mothers Out Front, which inspires mothers, grandmothers, and other caregivers across the country to fight for the environment for their children and families. Kelsey Wirth, cofounder of the organization, is passionate about developing women’s leadership in the renewable energy sector.
A Word About Wind recently launched a list celebrating women who work in the wind industry. The list celebrates the work of 100 women who were deemed the influential in the field. By publicizing the contributions of women in the wind business, the list promotes the work of women in an area where they are still underrepresented.
Wandee Khunchronyakong is committing to turning Thailand solar. Known as a solar power visionary, she’s credited for starting a solar industry in Thailand after obtaining 34 solar farms in 2009. As CEO and founder of Solar Power Company Group, she is attempting to transform regions of Thailand’s energy production into renewable solar energy. Khunchronyakong believes not only in the power of solar but also that women in particular are special and productive innovators towards climate solutions. Khunchronyakong wants to mentor other women to move forward with climate-friendly economies, and keeps hope in the belief that environmental sustainability will come with the right amount of work and action. Photo credit: Climate Investment Funds
Ni Huan and He Yisha are a few of the female leaders behind China’s green energy transition, fueling efforts at both the grassroots and business levels. Ni Huan’s decision to install an awning with solar panels at her Shanghai home has not only resulted in energy and cost savings but also drawn widespread interest from local schools, universities, and governments. Her community has since become a knowledge sharing hub for people interested in distributed solar projects. Since March 2015, her organization, Green-light Year, and its all-female team has provided eco-tours, workshops, and solar installations to over 1,600 people. Young entrepreneur and environmentalist He Yisha is the founder and CEO of two solar manufacturing companies, Unisun and Uper. Her leadership has helped these businesses achieve a global presence in only a few years and continues to inspire other women in the solar industry and country. Photo credit: Ji Zhe/Greenpeace
Petra Wadström won second prize of the 2017 EU Prize for Women Innovators for her work on a portable water purifier that uses solar energy. She is the founder of Solvatten, a social enterprise with a charitable branch that benefits mainly women and children who lack access to clean water.
On International Women’s Day, activists and women from the Deir Kanoun Ras el Ain cooperative installed a project to provide solar energy in South Lebanon. The cooperative produces rosewater, apple vinegar, orange sauce, apricot jam, crackers and tomato paste, but recently diesel energy became too expensive to afford, grinding their operations to a halt. Now, with an abundant supply of solar power, the women are saving money and time while reducing their carbon footprint. Photo credit: Greenpeace International
The Barefoot College of Tilonia in India has trained over 30 women from 13 countries across rural Asian and African communities as community solar and renewable technicians. Many of the women “Solar Mamas” come from conflict zones and face social barriers to education and employment, but the advanced training has provided a way to write their own stories, start their own businesses, address energy and climate issues in their home countries, and even teach the next generation of barefoot engineers. Photo: Stella Paul/IPS
In northern Tanzania, Esupat Loseku of Enguiki village and Leah Laiza of Ngarash village build clean energy cookstoves and install solar panels across their communities as part of their work with the International Collaborative Maasai Stoves and Solar Project. The Maasai women are able to earn a sustainable living from installations, while promoting the use of cleaner, more efficient cookstoves that improve local air quality and reduce adverse health impacts. Photo: Christabel Ligami
Halima Mdee is an entrepreneur from Tanzania who sells solar energy devices. In 2016 alone, she was able to provide 280 people from her community with renewable energy. Her dream is to save enough money to be able to build a safer house for her cattle. Photo credit: Solar Sister
Florentina Choc is a Barefoot College trained solar engineer working in the Mayan pueblo of Santa Teresa, Belize. Along with a colleague, Florentina is responsible for the planning and execution of the installation of a micro solar grid in her village. The project enabled the entire community to transition to 100% renewable electricity; they now use primarily solar energy, either from solar lanterns or panels. Photo credit: Pooja Choksi
Gita Pariyar and Danu Ale are co-CEOs of the business Ashmita and Laxmi Saurya Urjah and Traders, bringing solar power to the remote villages of Nepal’s Gorkha District, which was acutely impacted by the 2015 earthquake. Part of the Dalit and Indigenous Magar castes, respectively, Pariyar and Ale face extreme discrimination and low standards of living, yet they are dedicated to empowering the women in their communities through access to health care, employment, and electricity. Photo credit: Empower Generation
June Grant is a Jamaican architect in the United States focused on technology and design. She has a technology firm called Blink!Lab, through which she applies new technology and 3-D printers to make prototypes and designs that save energy and deal with waste on many fronts: water, energy, heat, etc. She tells us how small details and the use of topographic and geographic data can make a big difference in saving energy and resources. At the moment, June is working at San Francisco Bay Area, dealing with the rise of the sea level and its dangers to those living to close to the water, and has come up with an innovative wastewater treatment plant that could tackle a lot of the community’s environmental issues. Photo credit: Lori Eanes
Ten years ago, residents of the village of Olosho-Oibor decided to install solar panels to meet their most basic energy needs, as they had no connection to the national power grid. They never thought that the solar farm project would grow to become an energy provider for computers used by women entrepreneurs for their businesses, children who need to study long hours, and a centre that protects girls from early marriage and female genital mutilation. Photo credit: TRF/Benson Rioba
Energy poverty affects 1.6 billion people around the world, most of them women and girls. Understanding women’s crucial role in family well-being and economic prosperity, Katherine Lucey founded Solar Sisters to recruit, train and mentor women to build sustainable businesses selling portable solar lamps, mobile phone chargers and clean cookstoves. The organization supports female entrepreneurs with sales and distribution of renewable energy equipment and, since its launch, has employed more than 1,000 women. Photo credit: Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
In this report, the Women and Gender Constituency showcases model technical, non-technical, and transformational climate solutions with a gender-just framework. The winning projects include solar cooker training for women and school children to prevent deforestation in Morocco; women-driven, community-based water assessments and management solutions to address water scarcity and disaster risk in Indonesia; and the preservation of sustainable, ancestral and artisanal fishing practices to protect the mangrove ecosystem and women’s economic autonomy in Senegal. Photo credit: Women and Gender Constituency
Energy systems expert Likonge Makai is helping to power Zambia’s rural communities, where less than 5% of the population have access to electricity. Since forming in November 2014, her nongovernmental organization, LiChi’s Community Solution, has impacted over 1,800 people through solar-powered charging kiosks, lighting kits, and energy systems for homes and schools. These projects not only provide efficient, affordable energy for phones and lighting, but also enable quality education, sustainable business operations, improved health, and environmental sustainability. Photo: IEEE
Tarahing Masanin volunteered to learn about solar energy in India, spending six months attending a training provided by Barefoot College to become a solar engineer. Since she returned home to Japan, Tarashing has already worked in over 100 households to install solar equipment, providing alternatives to her community in terms of energy resources. Photo credit: The Star
The Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment is a Nigerian grassroots organization that implements projects for a healthier environment. The organization now works within the household cooking energy market to provide households with clean cookstoves. Photo credit: Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Cookstoves
After running for Highland Park’s city council three times, Shamayim Harris decided that she needed an alternative plan to make things better in her city, which has a history of administrative negligence. That’s when the idea of Avalon Village was born: an ecologically sustainable neighborhood that hosts a variety of community services, such as a center for children to eat meals and receive help with homework, all powered by clean energy sources. Photo credit: Zenobia Jeffries
Diane Moss is an energy consultant and the founder and director of the Renewables 100 Policy Institute. She is committed to the expansion of renewable energy and is working on the first overarching, global interactive map of 100% renewable energy projects. Photo credit: The Beam
During the 22nd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Rachel Kyte shared her opinion about accessibility to energy. Rachel is the chief executive and United Nations Special Representative at Sustainable Energy for All and believes that access to energy does not necessarily exclude climate action. She talks about the feasibility of energy accessibility, the promotion of renewable energy, and necessary improvements to the field.
Cynthia Malone is a conservation scientist and a current PhD student at the University of Toronto. During the Black Lives Matter movement, Malone got involved and worked with the Black Youth Project 100, an organization, whose approach to racial justice employs direct action and educational tools. She also co-founded the Diversity Committee at the Society for Conservation Biology, and her objective is to have more diversity in the scientific field. In order to achieve that, she also leads a network of scientists and activist of color from her field. Photo credit: Grist!
This brief by the WoMin Alliance of Africa brings into focus the power relations at play around the question of energy by exploring what kind of energy is needed, how is it produced, who produces it and how is it distributed amongst various groups, using an eco-feminist and feminist political ecology framework. It is a quick and succinct reminder that in order to achieve energy justice for women, we must remember to deal with the questions of power in the cultural, socioeconomic and political spheres.
As a competent solar engineer, Daphin Juma doesn’t forget her childhood in the Haruma slum of Nairobi without access to energy. Now she is determined to provide everyone with electricity and intends to do that with the help of sunshine. Daphin took part in a program developed by the Women in Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship in partnership with USAID and Strathmore University that trains women as solar engineers. The idea is to make the most of Kenya’s potential on solar power, with adequately trained solar engineers, while closing the gender gap in the sector. Photo credit: Daphin Juma/Facebook
According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency, access to energy at low rates can increase greatly with the use of decentralized sustainable energy technologies. Moreover, another report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, asserted the possibility of lowering levels of carbon at the entire globe. In spite of all the good news, many clean energy initiatives are planned by and for men, ignoring the fact that women manage household energy use in developing countries. Thus, even though clean energy is a feasible solution to climate change, policies lacking gender sensitivity may endanger that for as long as they do not address barriers to women entrepreneurs in developing economies. It is time for a change!
Like some of her fellow community members, Deodotta is a solar energy entrepreneur. At night, she opens her house for students who wish to continue their studies and have no light at home. It not only helps students in need, but also reduces the use of kerosene. In her community, over half of the population has already switched from kerosene to solar energy. Photo credit: Solar Sister
Fatuma, Grace K., Mwanaidi, and Grace M. are Solar Sister entrepreneurs in Mforo village near Mwanga, Tanzania, increasing access to solar technology in their community while securing a steady income and economic freedom for themselves. Photo credit: Lindsey Allen and Serena Chan
Eunice was inspired by a simple homemade stove in her mother’s house to teach women in her community in Kenya how to build their own clay stoves. The stoves not only require less wood for burning but also reduce smoke, which is connected to the respiratory problems Eunice had witnessed as a health worker. Photo credit: Gichuru Mugira
Women farmers in Mali are seeing their crops suffer from drought linked to climate change. In response, Fatoumata Diarra, a member of the women’s cooperative in the village of Massantola, explains how women in her community are using water-efficient agroecological practices to produce vegetables for consumption and sale. Part of the profits are reinvested into the maintenance of both a solar-powered well and mill that grinds grain into flour, freeing women's time for other endeavors. Photo credit: Imen Meliane/UNDP Climate Adaptation Mali
First Nations woman Ohwehhoh (Flower) Doxtador is challenging unsustainable city living with her very own “earthship” —an alternative, low-cost, off-the-grid solar home constructed from a combination of upcycled and natural materials. The home produces its own solar electricity, utilizes natural and recycled materials for heating and cooling, and recycles rainwater. The structure shelters Ohwehhoh, her daughter and her five grandchildren. Photo credit: Jess Tribe
In rural India, women are in charge of supplying energy for their households, as they are the ones who collect wood and buy kerosene. As a result, women are most affected by the lack of access to energy, as energy and poverty are highly correlated in India. Aneri Patel, a young entrepreneur who founded ENVenture, an incubator for local organizations working on clean energy businesses, explains how programs that address poverty have been emphasizing gender-sensitive approaches to stimulate off-grid renewable energy access. Photo credit: Michael Bennet
Local leader Shining works in solidarity with ethnic minority communities along the Thanlwin River Basin in Myanmar’s Shan State. An alumnus of EarthRights International’s Mekong School, Shining co-founded the Mong Pan Youth Association and Weaving Bonds Across Borders to educate and cultivate leaders at the local and international levels. Through trainings and workshops, she helps to build the communities’ capacity to engage in the EIA process, advocate for their rights, and defend the environment against the proposed Mong Ton Dam and future projects that risk severe short-term and long-term impacts. Photo credit: EarthRights International
Erika Mackey is COO and cofounder of Off-Grid Electric, a solar pay-as-you-go company founded in Tanzania. In their model, customers pay the same price as, or even less than, what they pay for kerosene, which has been a great incentive to switch power sources. The company has already expanded to other countries and aims at providing renewable and affordable energy for households and businesses. Photo credit: Power for All
Around the world, women are innovating to contribute to the renewables revolution. Throughout Africa, many women are becoming solar entrepreneurs, such as Hilaria Paschal from Tanzania. Along with other women from the local solar energy community, Hilaria sells solar lights and cookstoves as a solution to energy poverty and climate change. In a similar project, Hansa Chaudhary, from India, has been able to provide her community with off-the-grid clean energy technology while saving money for college. As for Bhavnaben Mangabhai, an Indian salt farmer participating in a Global Fairness Initiative project, the adoption of solar powered salt pumps has lightened her chore burden and helped her save money. Photo credit: Solar Sister
Chantal Uwingabire of Cyeza, Rwanda, and Fatma Mziray of Moshi, Tanzania, are Solar Sister entrepreneurs helping to electrify and empower their local communities through solar energy technology. Through their leadership and networks, these women are helping to power the three-quarters of the African population who live without modern energy. Photo credit: Solar Sister
Diane Moss, co-founder of the Renewables 100 Policy Institute, Wahleah Johns, Solar Project Manager with the Black Mesa Water Coalition, and Lynn Benander, CEO and President of Co-op Power, are leading the transition to renewable energy in the United States. They shared lessons and best practices from their work transitioning fossil fuel infrastructure to community-owned renewable solutions at the “Women for 100% Renewable Energy: From Installation to Advocacy” open online training presented by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network: U.S. Women’s Climate Justice Initiative. Photo credit: Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network
Solar Sister’s women entrepreneurs, including Rose, Hilaria, and Basilisa, support education and health, local business growth, income security, and expanded mobility for their community members and themselves by selling clean energy technologies. For example, Hilaria and other solar businesswomen in Mwada village have helped women better afford water during Mwada’s drought crisis through energy savings. Photo credit: Lindsey Allen and Serena Chan
Eco-warrior and entrepreneur Thato Kgatlhanye, founder of Rethaka Repurpose Schoolbags, started a small business which designs and manufactures school bags that provide solar light to homes with no electricity. Photo credit: BBC News
Joan MacNaughton writes of the importance of gender balance and the recognition of women in the renewable energy sector to meet the challenges of climate change. Photo credit: Joan MacNaughton for Renewable Energy World
Ethiopian women have been transforming their communities while earning income in a sustainable manner. Kimiyaa Umar participated in a United Nations programme that provides women with entrepreneurial training and a small loan, enabling Umar and her fellow participants to save money and create an energy-saving cookstove cooperative. Photo credit: UN Women/Fikerte Abebe
Among the many initiatives that aim at expanding the use of renewables in the United States, the work of Wahleah Johns is a remarkable example of energy democratization. She is a member of the Navajo nation and works to broaden access to renewable energy across her people’s territory. Her work as a vice-chair of the Navajo Green Economy Commission entails advancing economic opportunities related to renewable energy and her community’s traditional economic practices.
Local teachers Neema, Beatrice, and Mpaji are Solar Sister entrepreneurs in Tanzania, enabling families’ access to light and energy savings for reinvestment in their children’s education. As educators, they support a culture of trust and serve as a community resource for families that are interested in owning or already own solar lanterns. Photo credit: Serena Chan and Lindsey Allen
Sheila Oparaocha is International Coordinator at Energia, an international network that tackles gender and renewable energy issues. In this talk she explains the evolution of thinking around gender and renewable energy from 1990 to the present day. Sheila exposes the transformations that led to the establishment of the Sustainable Energy for All Decade, the first two years of which were dedicated to Energy for Women and Children’s Health. She also gives examples about targeted programmes that have successfully addressed gender and energy. Photo credit: Energia
Vien Truong is the director of Green for All, an advocacy group focused on clean energy, green jobs, and income equality. The organization, along with a coalition of other environmental justice groups, collaborated to get California’s SB 535 Bill passed, which requires companies producing large amounts of pollution to cut down on their emissions or be held financially responsible. Photo credit: Grist 50!
Eisha Mohammed lives in rural Tanzania but traveled to India to receive training in solar entrepreneurship from Barefoot College. Despite her disability and prejudice from members of her community, she now works installing and maintaining solar equipment in her village. Overcoming her community’s resistance to her breaking gender norms and becoming a solar technician, she has proven to many the benefit of women’s involvement in solar energy, and her community is grateful for the improved access to energy. Photo credit: UN Women/Stephanie Raison
Women represent only 16 percent of board positions and 14 percent of senior manager positions across the top 200 global utilities, despite women being a critical resource against climate change, and gender diversity contributing to the development of renewable energy. Deborah Oberon of AllGrid Energy, Isabelle Kocher of Engie, and Catherine Tanna of EnergyAustralia are among this group of women leaders advancing practical strategies for renewable energy development.
Maria Theresa Lauron engages in research, education, and advocacy on socioeconomic issues in the Philippines and global development practices through her dual roles as Chair of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness and Programme Manager of the IBON Foundation. At the 2015 Sustainable Energy For All Forum, Lauron aimed to recenter frontline communities and civil societies in global energy policy discussions by emphasizing energy technologies that are sustainable and nondestructive and calling for greater government’s responsibility in advancing climate change solutions. Photo credit: UN NGLS
Jodie Wu founded Global Cycle Solutions, a company that supports rural entrepreneurs to provide their communities with access to renewable technologies throughout Tanzania. Her team works with the distribution of products such as solar lanterns and clean cookstoves, reducing fossil fuel consumption and generating job opportunities in the renewable sector. Photo credit: Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Awards
After working with Van Jones on the policy side of the green jobs movement, Emily Kirsch became interested in small-scale solar finance while working at a startup that experimented with crowdfunding solar projects. She noticed that such startups often struggle to attract seed funding and in-kind donations that nascent businesses need to grow. Kirsch went on to co-found Powerhouse, a business dedicated to funding and supporting small-scale solar startups. In her profile for Grist magazine’s “50 People You'll Be Talking About in 2016,” she emphasizes the importance of women in renewable energy. Photo credit: Grist
With support from Empower Generation, grassroots women are leading a clean energy revolution in Nepal. Women including Sita Adhikari, Pabitra Aryal, and Lalita Chaudhari are CEOs of local solar enterprises which sell products ranging from solar lamps to mobile chargers. Already active community members, these women have expanded their role by helping to bring electricity to their energy-poor villages. Photo credit: Empower Generation
Nicky Phear was central to the establishment of the Climate Change Studies program at the University of Montana, the first undergraduate program of its kind in the United States. Through the program, students are encouraged to develop clean energy solutions and advocate for sustainability. Phear designed unique classes that make the program stand out, such as the Cycle the Rockies course, in which students learn about clean energy and climate change while cycling through Montana. Nicolette also developed a similar initiative in Bhutan. Photo credit: Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Awards
The fifth Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Women in Clean Energy Symposium granted awards to nine women active in the field of renewable energy who have demonstrated exceptional leadership. The C3E began as a commitment made by the United States at the Clean Energy Ministerial, a forum of 24 major-economy governments, to close the gender gap and stimulate women leaders within clean energy. The award is divided by categories, such as entrepreneurship, advocacy, business and research. Meet nine women who are at the forefront of renewable energy solutions. Photo credit: Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Awards
When Jackie Weidman noticed the gap in leadership training in the renewable energy sector, she decided that something had to be done. That led her to start recruiting and training potential leaders, founding the Clean Energy Leadership Institute in 2013. Photo credit: Grist
Worried about how the lack of accessible data storage for energy producers impacts energy startups, Elena Lucas decided to find a solution. Elena is a co-founder and CEO of UtilityAPI, a startup that wrangles energy data and delivers it to the companies who need it—and has brought the cost of installing solar panels down by 5 to 10 percent. Lucas believes that more opportunities should be open for women in tech-related fields, making a point to employ an equal number of women and men at UtilityAPI. Photo credit: Grist