Kandeh K. Yumkella, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and the initiative’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), P. Mohinder Gulati today visited the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) as part of their activities in India marking the launch of the Asia roll-out of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and the 2014 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit.
The visit which took place at the Great Rann of Kutch Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarati, India was meant to showcase how access to clean energy is helping poor women to manage their lives, empower themselves economically and in keeping with the theme of the first two years of the decade (2014-2015) focusing on the positive effects energy access can bring to women, children and their health.
The Salt Pan Workers of the Kutch Desert who have experienced energy-poverty for most of their lives were happy the SEforALL executives visited but also eager to tell them how their lives are changing with the use of affordable clean energy services such as solar light. Speaking through a translator, a young woman said “the work of producing salt is an intensive one. It requires water to be pumped from the ground to form salt crakes and crystal. Thanks to our solar light, we have seen a big difference.”
Another lady noted how the use of clean cook stove is a big relief for them from the smoke they inhale daily when they cook. “Before, we used to inhale a lot of smoke from the food we cook using wood or coal. The arrival of the cookstove in our lives has lessened our daily routine of going to find wood in the bush. Before we would go every day and now we don’t need to go because we no longer use plenty of wood. Sometimes, we go only once a week, she confidently explained.”
“We have always known that energy is essential for empowering women, “said CEO Yumkella as he responded to comments from the Salt Pan Women. “We also know that the backbreaking work that women do every day can be minimized with the provision of basic and affordable energy which in turn allows them to do other productive activities. The Secretary-General’s initiative on sustainable energy is about real lives, real people. We will work with all our partners around the world to bring meaningful change to your lives and to many more.”
For her part, Reemaben Nanavaty, stated that there is immense need to scale up access for these women and others in their plight. “We need to ensure that many more women have access to clean, affordable energy services. When that happens, women can lead and can address their needs,” said 50 year old Nanavaty who leads the Self Employed Women Association, reaching out to millions of women and their families.