“I now believe we can do many things.”
Peru’s clean energy entrepreneurs
“My life has changed. Before this training, I used to be afraid that only men could do that type of work, and that women could not do it. I was afraid of working with this kind of equipment, of working with machines. That fear is gone. I now believe we can do so many things.”
Nelly Arias is one of the 290 women in Peru who enrolled in e-Mujer, the Energy School for Women. The pilot project, funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines and UNDP, trains women to use, install, maintain and commercialize clean energy solar panels and cookstoves.
In doing so, e-Mujer helps to close gaps in access to clean energy, contributes to advancing climate action, and reduces gender inequalities — a critical issue across the country. In Peru’s rural areas, 42 percent of women do not earn an income, barring them from getting property, credit and independence. Through e-Mujer, they gain new skills to start their own clean energy business, earn an income, and make their lives easier. Currently implemented in Cusco and Cajamarca, where the training is focused on improved cookstoves, and Puno and Loreto, where the focus is on solar energy, e-Mujer is now looking to go national. A core part of the project’s next phase will be to strengthen the entrepreneurship dimension of the training by supporting women to design and implement business models for their clean energy businesses. 12 percent of Peruvians use solid fuels such as firewood or charcoal for cooking and other domestic uses. Eight percent of the population — nearly three million people –don’t have electricity. Most live in remote communities that the national grid can’t reach.
Rural women are the main users of energy at home. As such, they are more vulnerable. Air pollution from stoves and open fires affects their health, and is a huge burden on their time; women spend three times as much time as men collecting water and fuel. These practices also contribute to deforestation. Clean energy technology is a cost-effective solution and contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 7—clean, affordable, reliable energy — while helping Peru reach its climate goals.
A school designed for rural women
One of the keys to e-Mujer’s success is its flexible learning by doing educational approach. A travelling school that reaches out to women in their communities, e-Mujer trains women in a way that fits with their busy schedules.
In the two years the project teams have witnessed its life-changing benefits. It has helped women to have greater confidence in their abilities, a greater sense of personal worth and authority to carry out activities traditionally associated with men, feel more confident to participate in their communities’ social spaces, and value their new skills, ranging from their practical skills to their greater facility to express themselves publicly. “Women are able to train other people, and to work on an equal footing with men,” said e-Mujer student Ana Maria Pumaccallahui from Cusco. “I want to open my own business to sell improved cookstoves. I want people to be healthy. Many families still use traditional stoves, so I would like the four communities in my district to have clean cooking technologies. Setting up my clean cooking business will enable me to earn income while helping people.”
Unleashing the power of women
As its pilot phase is ending, e-Mujer is looking towards the future. UNDP, the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines and partners aim to replicate the project across the country, and are looking for opportunities to expand the entrepreneurship and business models components of the training. This would include new courses, including adding an innovations hub for women to design other clean energy technologies that are adapted to their realities and their needs.
Such investments would enable to truly unleash the potential of women in advancing clean energy access and climate action in Peru, for the benefit of all.
· Claudia Espinoza, Project Coordinator of the Energy Efficiency Direction of the Ministry of Energy and Mines email@example.com
· Sophie Guibert, Energy Communications Specialist, UNDP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Key information about the project:
· The project is looking for new opportunities to go national and scale up its entrepreneurship and business models components.
· e-Mujer is part of the project “Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions” in Peru, which is implemented by the Ministry of Energy and Mines of Peru and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It seeks to reduce the gap in universal access to clean energy and mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases, making a difference in the lives of hundreds of women and their communities.
· The training is currently made up of three courses: how to use and maintenance of clean energy technologies; how to set up clean energy technologies; how to start and run a clean energy business.