Empowering women and promoting gender equality
The benefits of replacing kerosene lamps with our lights have some great positive effects on the lives of women and girls, who still are often treated as lesser persons in developing countries.
The women have to get the kerosene
It is mostly the women in the house that have to walk for hours with a small container or even a plastic bag to stand in line to buy some expensive kerosene for the lamps.
Then it is many hours back again, often several times per week.
This time could be spent otherwise: to work at home or for an income, educate the children or just relax.
In sub-Saharan Africa, kerosene is a ‘woman’s fuel’. In rural areas a woman walks many miles to buy kerosene at the market. In urban settlements or slums, she buys it in as little as 10c increments or by the tablespoon. It may be all that she may be able to afford. Because of women’s work inside the home, they are constantly exposed to kerosene and its toxic fumes.
But it is the men who normally make the cash. Up to 25% of all income is needed for kerosene and every time the women have to ask for the money. This often leads to frustration about the fact that the hard-earned money is just being burned and often results in fights and domestic violence. Men often rather spend money on cheap batteries for their radios, leaving the family in the dark.
Once the husband is dead or gone it is very hard for women to independently generate income to feed the hungry kerosene lamps. Often that means they need to find another man with chance of more abuse or stay in the dark risking their personal safety.
The women suffer from the kerosene
Women represent 70% of the rural poor most affected by energy poverty. But more importantly, women are primarily responsible for energy usage at the household level. Clean energy technology will not be adapted on a widespread basis if women are not part of the solution.
As most women and girls spend all day and evening at home, taking care of the household and the smaller children, they spend the most time in the toxic fumes of the kerosene lamps in addition to the smoke of the fires.
In Nepal, UC Berkeley researchers found the odds of having Tuberculosis were more than nine times greater for women using kerosene lamps for indoor lighting, rather than electricity. (Berkeley.edu)
In many cultures women are not allowed to breastfeed their babies and have to do it inside the dark houses, not seldomly close to a kerosene lamp. If there is only money to send one child to school, then often it is the boy, the girls stay at home.
Of course that also means that often women and girls are the victims of fires which can not only lead to physical pains but also to divorce as a burned woman is considered less.
The same gender bias is true for the limited ‘reading time’: if there is only enough money to have 2 hours of kerosene-powered lamps, then it will be the father and then the boys who will be able to use it.
Just adding extra ‘light time’ and even extra lights for no extra costs, but savings instead will greatly improve the position of women and girls. There is a reason that many photos and stories of our light in use show happy women: they know the value of light and the positive impact it can have on their lives. We will actively try to empower the women and level the gender inequality.
Women use light
Simply said: it is the women that need the light the most. They spend more time inside and do more things that require light. But women and girls do not want to work all the time. Everybody needs time to relax and socialize as well, and our light provides the much needed opportunity.
The following video shows some of the impacts of solar lights on lives in India. These are not our lights, but we support each and every initiative that helps us reach our goals.
- 1 Alleviate poverty Reduce poverty by saving 25% of household costs!
- 2 Health benefits removing toxic and dangerous kerosene from households
- 3 Prevent fire hazards Kerosene lamps are leading cause of house fires
- 4 Enabling education Students can study better & longer, more money for books
- 5 Save our planet Stop global warming, deforestation and pollution
- 6 Increase income Light at night can create additional income streams
- 7 Empowering women LED lights create a brighter future for women and girls
- 8 Empower communities Light generates joint income, offers new possibilities
- 9 Increase safety bringing light in houses and community
- 10 Solar education Teach students and entrepreneurs about solar