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In Brief

Women Can Be Leaders in Clean Power Movement

19 November 2013

Woman cooking over indoor fire (AP Images)

Women in the developing world can help speed the transition to clean energy technologies. At the global talks on climate change solutions underway in Warsaw, experts say women and children are also at greater risk of harm from adverse consequences of climate change.

Women can wield important influence to increase the use of clean energy technologies and help reduce climate change. That theme took the forefront November 19 with recognition of Gender Day at COP 19, the international meeting on climate change underway in Warsaw.

Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said women have been effective advocates for environmental causes in many nations over the decades. With today’s challenges, she said, women can advocate adoption of less-polluting technologies. If developing world women start using cleaner cooking technologies, Sutley said, they will also improve the quality of their health and their lives.

Open cookfires, currently used by more than 2.5 billion people, are significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions and a health threat to the women and children most exposed to them. Advocates at COP 19 are promoting the transition to cleaner cooking technologies as a step toward improving women’s lives, reducing their exposure to pollution and redirecting the time and energy they spend gathering firewood.

Sutley discussed women and climate change on a discussion panel on the sidelines of the formal COP 19 negotiations.

With an initiative called wPOWER, the U.S. Department of State and partner organizations aim to empower more than 8,000 female clean-energy entrepreneurs across East Africa, Nigeria and India who will deliver clean energy access to more than 3.5 million people over the next three years.

The Department of State launched wPOWER — the Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables — in January 2013.