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Podcast: Women at the frontlines of energy access

In this episode, Divya Kottadiel speaks with Jesctina Jescinta, Gender Manager at the Clean Cooking Alliance about the progress made and the challenges faced in promoting greater gender equality in the renewable energy sector, and more specifically in the clean cooking space.

Women play a catalytic role in the sector

Against the backdrop of this year’s International Women’s Day themed #ChooseToChallenge, Jescinta speaks about how despite seeing significant progress, energy poverty is still something that millions of women and girls face every day. Women do not have the same opportunities as men to take advantage of increased access. Women are the first ones to feel the impacts of energy poverty, the first ones to be removed from school to fetch firewood and collect water. They’re the first ones who have to walk farther and farther distances to collect cooking fuel for their families.

However it is important to remember that women are not just passive recipients of clean energy. They are truly at the frontlines, whether it’s employing local knowledge to design community solutions, or leading investment ready companies, women are activating the essential change that we have to leverage in order to truly fulfil our vision of sustainable energy for all. Women have to be positioned as the essential levers to scaling energy access. Whether as consumers and users, or employees and entrepreneurs, women play a catalytic role in the sector. We can activate new approaches to achieving SDG7 by fully utilizing women’s expertise and tapping into their entrepreneurial spirit, which has the potential to impact not just women, but communities as a whole.

Energizing change

CCA’s annual report highlights the various ways in which women have showed up in the sector. The newly launched Women in Clean Cooking Mentorship Program is a super exciting initiative by CCA in collaboration with Sustainable Energy for All, and the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition. The initial cohort of 30 mentees was selected from a pool of over 150 applicants from Africa and Asia. It’s a big demonstration of tackling professional development gaps for early to mid-management women in the sector.

Women Energizing Change, an interview series, highlights the crucial and varied ways in which women are advancing developments in the clean cooking sector. Their involvement throughout the value chain is necessary in order to achieve universal access and other goals as part of the 2030 Agenda.

CCA’s new initiative, providing gender advisory services to companies, has grown out of consultations with companies and the realisation that many are strapped for resources and don’t necessarily have the in-house capacity, tools, and resources to be able to integrate gender into their business approaches. There’s also a need, alongside that, to have strong evidence and a business case to demonstrate the why. Using a six step gender diagnostic tool to develop a baseline as well as a conversation starter, CCA aims to provide companies with the support they need in order to adopt informed approaches and understand the value of doing so, and then transition to a series of customizable trainings based on the knowledge gaps for the company along with a suite of other offerings, meeting the companies where they are and working with them to achieve their goals.

These initiatives tie back to the desire to create a platform to elevate the amazing ways in which women are not just victims of this issue, but also the solution makers, and they’re doing this everyday. IT’s clear that we cannot improve energy access without the full participation and input from women, since they’re the ones with the first hand experience of the effects and have a true understanding of what is required to make the solutions work in a contextualized and sustainable manner.

COVID recovery must include women

There is a transformational power in women’s resilience and perseverance. That’s something we’ve witnessed even during COVID-19 and how women responded to the pandemic. And this will be crucial when we look at COVID recovery as well. It is critical to recognize the invaluable creative contributions that women can provide to this recovery. We’re all in this together, and we’re all jointly seeking to better understand the effects in the gender and energy community. One thing we have to advocate for is that women have to be at the centre of these efforts, and we have to ensure equal access to response and recovery efforts. Gender equality and empowering all women and girls -- SDG5 -- must be considered a vital strategy in the global equation towards recovery, and we must insist that all policies and frameworks are gender responsive and take a critical lens to ensure that we are providing equal benefit to responding to the unique needs of men and women. Without this, any sort of implementation of a post-COVID recovery effort is going to be unsuccessful.

Find out more about the Clean Cooking Alliance via their website where you can also sign up for their newsletter that includes news and updates from partner organizations as well. 


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