13 December 2017

Africa: UN Women Initiative to Advance Role of Women in Energy

As the need to increase access to sustainable energy in Africa grows, the United Nations Environment Assembly in collaboration with UN Women, the African Union Commission and other partners has launched an initiative to give women a more active role in the development of sustainable and affordable energy on the continent.

The Africa Women Energy Entrepreneurs Framework (AWEEF) which was launched was during the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi last week, will enable African women to participate actively in the transition to clean energy.

This will be achieved by unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs in sustainable energy, critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the director and regional representative of UN Environment in Africa, Biao Koudenoukpo, AWEEF will galvanise commitment from governments and development partners to attract resources to tackle the issue of access to clean and affordable energy in Africa.

This is part of the action plans in the "Libreville outcome statement," the "Africa Environment Ministerial Declaration to implement the SDGs, and the AU Agenda 2063.

"Women disproportionately bear the burden of energy poverty and face significant health and safety risks from household air pollution, from carrying heavy fuel loads, and from the lack of lighting," Ms Koudenoukpo said.

Vast engagement

The framework contains the proposals and resolutions of the 16th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in June, designed to improve the role of women in the energy sector.

Ministers attending the conference in Libreville, Gabon, agreed to support women as change agents and main stakeholders in the energy sector, given their vast engagement in the collection and use of biomass (getting energy by burning wood, and other organic matter).

According to the African Development Bank's Gender and Energy Desk Review of 2016, while women and girls in Africa bear the main burden of collecting biomass, they are generally disadvantaged at all levels, in terms of ownership and access to land, natural resources, credit, information and decision-making.

In a statement on behalf of the African ministers of the environment, Kenya's Environment Cabinet Secretary Prof Judi Wakhungu said the framework will empower women to develop sustainable and affordable clean energy.

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