A large percentage of women in the rural area do not have access to alternative means of cooking except the use of firewood.
Though recent studies have revealed that exposure to heat and smoke resulting from open fire has great effect on the lives of women, these women are still being faced with these threats.
Some observers have opined that the situation is a result of the fact that most of these women are not informed to even know the implication of this act, but others have lined it to poverty, claiming that most rural women cannot afford clean cooking energy.
In its effort to lessen this burden on women, the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (NACC), an affiliate of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in collaboration with women entrepreneurs recently organised an event to showcase how clean cooking energy, renewable energy, information technology and entrepreneurship play important roles in unleashing the potential of women for a better future.
The occasion held in commemoration of the International Women’s Day was aimed at raising awareness among the global gender community that access to clean cooking solutions, renewable energy and information technology are critical drivers of gender equality.
This, according to the organisers, was necessary for achieving global gender equality goals and targets and provides significant opportunities for women’s empowerment even as it provides opportunity for all participants to learn something new.
The event with the theme: “Make it Happen through Clean Energy, Technology and Entrepreneurship,” had lead presenters from the Energy Commission of Kenya, Save The Children, WE FM, Creeds Energy, Roshan Global Ltd and NACC.
Through presentation of success stories, the event encouraged, engaged and interacted with young and inspiring secondary school girls, internally displaced women, other women groups, men and all those interested in building a better future.
Highlighting the impact of clean cook stoves in alleviating the sufferings of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as well as prevent physical violence and respiratory diseases. Hannah Kabir of Creeds Energy said, “Access to clean energy alternatives for women in communities, households and enterprises can improve livelihoods and generate sustainable income streams to lift them and their families out of energy and economic poverty, adding that with sustainable solutions, women can become more productive by distributing their time and effort more efficiently and improving their health and well-being.”
Addressing the health related issues associated with smoke inhalation, Happy Amos of Roshan Global Ltd said, “Cooking Should not kill that is why we’re passionate about making Happy Energy Saving Stoves to save lives and save money for women and we intend to make this happen!”
The national coordinator of the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Ewah Eleri, reiterated that “Around the world today, 4 million women die of smoke from the kitchen. This is more than the number of deaths from malaria and hepatitis put together worldwide. In Nigeria, nearly 100,000 lives are lost from smoke; from something as simple and ordinary as cooking.”
Also, students of the British Nigerian Academy, the host school for the event, presented a stage play entitled: “The Plight of the Nigerian Woman,” written, directed and acted by the students. The play highlighted the essence of respecting and empowering women and how respecting them could go a long way in ensuring they operate at optimum capacity.
It was noted that lack of access to energy, be it for cooking or for lighting, and resulting energy poverty were issues that needed to be tackled today, and women are ready to play their part as innovators, entrepreneurs, policy makers and consumers.
Speaking also, Victoria Sloan, public affairs officer, US Embassy, said, “The problems that face the world today cannot be solved without the full participation of women.
“It is generally known that investing in women entrepreneurs will boost the economy for everyone. With unstable oil prices and lack of stimuli in various sectors of the economy, innovation and entrepreneurship spearheaded by women may be the answer.”
At the event, women entrepreneurs from Creeds Energy and Roshan Global Ltd narrated their continuing journey as entrepreneurs.
The event also discussed how leveraging on Information and communication technology (ICT) in particular, could empower women and girls. It further highlighted how the future path to Nigeria’s development lies with renewable and sustained energy resources.
It showcased that despite the diversity in Nigerian women’s experience and identity, gender could be a unifying factor that would enable women to develop common strategies and action leading to their economic, social and political empowerment.
Income Generation Team Lead, USAID/SHARE, Lekan Tobe, also shared ways in which they were promoting cookstoves, solar lamps and water products by training women in entrepreneurship and offering financing to enable sustainability.
At the end of the event, Roshan Global Limited distributed clean cookstoves and solar lamps to the IDPs among the audience.
Patience Ihejirika – Leadership Newspaper