Statement by Lakshmi Puri at the Sustainable Energy for All: Launch of the Energy and Women’s Health High Impact Opportunity

Date: Friday, April 19, 2013

Statement by Lakshmi Puri, Acting Head of UN Women, at the Sustainable Energy for All Launch of the Energy and Women’s Health High Impact Opportunity, Panel Discussion on Energy and Women’s Health: The Way Forward, 19 April 2013, Washington, D.C.

Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson,
Dr. Chan, Kathy Calvin,

Good afternoon. I would like to thank the Sustainable Energy for All initiative and its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, for organizing this important discussion.

Many people ask us how to measure the success of UN Women. I like to respond that when more and more constituencies, stakeholders and people embrace gender equality and women’s empowerment as central to their own agenda, this is a sign of success. The Sustainable Energy for All is one such initiative. As the Deputy Secretary-General said, there is no planet B. To this, I would like to add that women are a vital part of planet A!

Engaging women is essential to eradicating poverty – which is really at the center of this initiative. But we are not just speaking about economic poverty. Women are essential to eliminating poverty in access to essential services and in access to energy.

Women can and must play an active role in the planning, producing, supplying and managing of energy. There can be no energy for all that is sustainable unless we tap into the energy, engagement and expertise of women.

Whether we discuss who does the cooking at home, how to reduce the risk of violence or the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, or how to transition to new sources of energy, women are at the forefront of energy use. Women must be at the starting point of our discussions and many panelists referred to that today.

Engaging women, achieving gender equality and promoting women’s empowerment must be a critical part of this initiative in its design and execution. This is essential to achieving the objectives of this initiative.

UN Women is already addressing these aspects in multiple ways. We are proud to be working as a member of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to introduce clean and efficient stoves and fuels into 100 million homes by 2020, so that fewer lives will be cut short by exposure to pollutants from cooking inside with wood, dung and coal.

We are introducing clean cookstoves into our country programmes, and raising global awareness about women’s time and energy use and the health impacts for them and their families.

Together with the Barefoot College of India, we are supporting rural women to become solar engineers and results are electrifying! When they return home, they are capable of fabricating, installing and maintaining solar lighting systems and ensuring that 60 households in their villages become technically and financially self-sufficient.

The Rio+20 outcome recognized the critical linkages between sustainable energy, health and gender equality and women’s empowerment. This initiative addresses these linkages and of course I recall the event where we were in Rio where this idea germinated.

And today I am pleased to be here for the launch of this High Impact Opportunity initiative for energy and women’s health. This initiative will save lives and reduce costs by improving access to power and lighting, providing clean, hot and sterile water to clinics, and introducing renewable and efficient energy sources.

We look forward to working with our partner organizations, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the United Nations Foundation, to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality and sustainable energy for all.

And if there is one thing that I want you to remember it is this: Women are not beneficiaries or bystanders of development. Women are partners for development and sustainable energy for all. This initiative is a real opportunity for women to be fully empowered and engaged.

I call upon all of you and all partners to support these efforts. Moving forward, UN Women will activate and mobilize our networks and partnerships through our country and regional offices to advance a healthier and brighter future for all.