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Access to affordable, clean energy can power global poverty reduction. Yet more than one billion people lacked access to electricity in 2015, and three billion people relied on fuels such as wood, coal, kerosene and animal dung that undermine health and contribute to climate change. Over half the population of the developing world cooks over open fires. In 2012, the resulting air pollution contributed to around four million deaths from illnesses such as cancer, pneumonia and lung disease, with women and children accounting for 60% of these deaths.
On average, the rural poor travel the furthest to collect fuel that is, in turn, the most inefficient in converting to energy. As with water collection, girls and women often travel long distances for heavy loads of firewood, with the average wood load carried by women in sub-Saharan Africa weighing around 20 kilograms.
The risks are also similar: sexual violence, fatigue, and lost time that could be spent in school or earning an income.
Problems intensify during crises, when the world’s most vulnerable people become those most acutely affected by a lack of clean energy. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and FAO found that access to fuel was one of the most pressing daily issues for the over 65 million people displaced worldwide by 2015. And a 2016 study of a refugee camp in Tanzania found that attacks on girls and women collecting firewood spiked during influxes of new refugees, when increased demand meant that they had to travel further for firewood.
Access to electricity:
Access to affordable, clean energy can power poverty reduction, keep families healthier, and reduce the time women spend on household work. Colombia, El Salvador, and Indonesia have achieved nearly universal access to electricity (98- 99% in 2016), whereas Kenya and Senegal stand at 56% and 65% respectively.
Colombia leads on this indicator, with 92% of the population reliant on clean fuels and technology as of 2016 (compared with 13% in Kenya and 32% in Senegal).
Gender-responsive national framework:
Energy policy frameworks can enhance or undermine the well-being of girls and women. Among the focus countries, Colombia is the highest-performing country in the measure of whether a country’s clean energy policies reflect a gender-responsive approach—Kenya and Senegal, by comparison, have no gender-responsive policies in their national frameworks.
Here we highlight the ‘missing’ critical gender equality issues that we weren’t able to include in the Index due to insufficient globally comparable data. These ‘missing’ issues can help form part of an advocacy agenda calling for more and better gender data, contributing to existing calls for gaps in gender data to be filled.
Aminata has been a passionate advocate for the protection of children since 1990 when she had the opportunity to represent Senegal at the UN Summit in West Africa when she was just 12 years old.Go to the Story
A major driver in drop-out rates for girls in school is linked to child marriage, especially at secondary level. Diarra and her teacher collect data at school to tackle the issue in their community.Go to the Story
Together with her mother, Laura pushes for progress on gender equality in El Salvador. She uses radio and video to share her opinions about child rights in her community.Go to the Story