SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Affordable, clean energy fuels sustainable development, such as by providing the light that allows a child to do her homework or the power that a woman uses to run sewing machines for her business. Worldwide, 1.1 billion people still have no electricity. Three billion burn solid fuels such as wood and animal dung for cooking and heating, filling their homes with dangerous pollutants.
In spending more time around the home, women and girls accounted for 6 out of 10 of the 4.3 million premature deaths caused in 2012 by indoor air pollution.
The lack of modern energy sources has other consequences for women and girls, who are often the primary household energy managers. They may spend hours each day collecting fuel and carrying heavy loads. In households that cook with solid fuels, girls spend 18 hours a week, on average, gathering fuel. Women are largely sidelined in the industries that produce modern sources of renewable energy, however, comprising only 20 per cent of the workforce.
Some indications suggest that women are more likely than men to conserve energy—using up to 22 per cent less, including through a greater willingness to alter everyday behaviours.
UN Women acts to extend energy access through gender-inclusive energy planning and policies, promoting women’s entrepreneurship for sustainable energy, and improving women’s skills and access to financial resources. Since 2011, UN Women has co-sponsored the Gender Equality Award granted by the SEED Initiative, a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy.
Take Five: “The opportunity for sustainable energy entrepreneurship is significant for women”
Suhela Khan currently leads UN Women’s joint programme with UNEP, called "Women’s Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Energy Programme" in India, talks about how women’s access to clean energy and entrepreneurship can be improved in India, which is in the midst of a profound transformation in the energy sector.
From where I stand: Eisha Mohammed
Eisha Mohammed, a solar engineer in Mjimwema, a remote village in Tanzania, installs and repairs solar equipment, bringing electricity to many homes in her village. She spent six months training to be a solar engineer at the Barefoot College in India, supported by UN Women and the Government of India.
Photo essay: Rural women light villages in Liberia
In post-civil war Liberia, less than 10 per cent of the population has access to electricity. Rural Liberian women, trained as solar engineers at the Barefoot College in India with support from UN Women, are pioneering efforts to provide affordable and clean energy by installing and managing solar lamps in their communities.
Loans and energy-saving technology transform lives in rural Ethiopia
A joint programme in Ethiopia brings together six UN Agencies to help women save and invest in energy-saving cooking stove technology cooperatives. Kimiya Umar, a 35-year-old mother of six, is one of 19,500 beneficiaries who has received entrepreneurship training, and these women also sell these stoves to other villages, benefitting more women.