Empowering Africa: The Crucial Role of Women in the Just Energy Transition
by Carol Ofafa, African School of Regulation
As the world grapples with the urgent need for a just energy transition to combat climate change and promote sustainable development, it is essential to recognize African women’s often overlooked but vital role in driving this transition. The United Nations Women (UN Women) has advocated for gender inclusion in the just transition, emphasizing the importance of empowering women to ensure the success and fairness of sustainable energy initiatives.
UN Women on Gender Inclusion in the Just Transition
According to UN Women, gender equality is a fundamental human right and a foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. In the just energy transition context, it is crucial to ensure that women actively participate in and benefit from the shift towards renewable and sustainable energy sources. UN Women highlights that integrating gender perspectives in energy policies and projects contributes to social and economic development while addressing gender-based inequalities.
Kenya’s Renewable Energy Sector as a Model
Kenya has emerged as a notable example in Africa’s renewable energy sector, showcasing how women can play a central role in the just energy transition. The country has made substantial progress in harnessing renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to meet its energy needs. One inspiring example is Mama Yuanita, a leader in a community-based organization named Awuoth CBO, which focuses on empowering rural women.
Mama Yuanita and Awuoth CBO
Mama Yuanita is the driving force behind Awuoth CBO, located in a rural area of Kenya. The organization primarily supports women farmers by providing them a platform to collectively aggregate and sell their vegetables. Awuoth CBO stands out because of its commitment to sustainability, exemplified by the use of solar power to run heaters and coolers for drying and storing vegetables.
Solar-Powered Solutions for Rural Women
E-Safiri Charging Limited is a Kenyan startup led by women focusing on renewable energy solutions to power sustainable mobility, distributed micro-generation and temporary power solutions. In collaboration with E-Safiri, Mama Yuanita’s Awuoth CBO has successfully offered training workshops to women farmers in solar-powered electric mobility solutions to address the energy and mobility needs of the community. The women farmers walk 8-10 kilometres daily to transport vegetables and other produce to Awuoth CBO’s aggregate centre. E-Safiri is providing electric tricycles and cold storage solutions powered by solar energy to solve these challenges faced by women. By utilizing solar energy to power mobility needs, heaters and coolers, women farmers can now extend the shelf life of their produce, reducing post-harvest losses and increasing their economic resilience. This innovative approach not only promotes sustainable energy but also directly benefits the livelihoods of rural women.
Empowering Women in Decision-Making
UN Women emphasizes the importance of involving women in decision-making processes related to energy policies and projects. Mama Yuanita’s leadership in Awuoth CBO exemplifies the positive impact women can have when allowed to actively participate in shaping the direction of sustainable initiatives. By empowering women like Mama Yuanita and women-led organisations like E-Safiri, communities gain valuable insights contributing to the success and inclusivity of the just energy transition.
As the world strives for a more sustainable and equitable future, it is imperative to recognize and support the crucial role of African women in the just energy transition. Mama Yuanita and Awuoth CBO in Kenya are shining examples of how women can drive change at the grassroots level, promoting renewable energy solutions that benefit both the environment and local communities. By amplifying the voices and contributions of women in the renewable energy sector, we can ensure a more inclusive and successful transition to a cleaner, greener future for all.
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