UN Commission on the Status of Women - Renewable energy as a tool for empowermentBy JJB
Last March 13-24 2017, the sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 61) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Despite the severe blizzard that struck the area during that time, participants gathered from around the globe, in order to interact, discuss and share thoughts during several get-togethers, debates and events.
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) works as part of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the UN’s principal organs. Other well-known principal organs of the United Nations are, for example, the UN General Assembly or the UN Security Council. In this institutional framework, the CSW holds a central position for the advocacy of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Here is a link to a document that describes the CSW a bit further, from the perspective of participating Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Indeed, NGOs are an important link between the UN and civil society. Therefore, it was no wonder that numerous NGOs were present again at this year’s CSW 61, at a large variety of conferences and parallel events.
One of these gatherings took place on Saturday, March 18th, bringing together such diverse actors as the Hunger Project, UNICEF’s working group on girls, Solar Cookers International and the Swedish platform project Flickaplattformen (a cooperation partner of the Hunger Project Sweden).
The discussed topics included persisting gender inequalities in Sweden (and their meaning on a global scale), empowerment of women in rural Africa in their everyday life… and solar cooking as a valuable contribution to this type of empowerment in many parts of the world. Solar cooking is not only better for the environment than traditional cooking, but it is also an easier, cheaper and healthier cooking solution for many women who take care of their families under extremely hard conditions - conditions which, in return, limit these women's educational and economic perspectives (and as written in 2014 on this blog, the International Energy Agency estimates that 600,000 people die each year in Africa due to smoke intoxication caused by inappropriate cooking devices, and that in sub-Saharan Africa alone, 620 million people, i.e. 2 thirds of the population, have no electricity and almost 730 million people use inefficient or dangerous cooking devices).
Additionally, as also discussed by the conference’s participants, introducing this new cooking technology in local communities can represent an occasion to break traditional patterns and to raise the interest of everybody, women and men, to take on household tasks such as cooking.
Overall, one of the key takeaways for the participants of this event was the strong feeling that individual efforts are not merely isolated “drops on a hot stone”… but that all these pursuits of positive change are interconnected and shared among many people across the planet. All this good energy is never lost.
This article was also published in the "SCI Digest" newsletter of Solar Cookers International (Vol 11, June 5th 2017).
For the archive of past issues of the "SCI Digest", please click here.