Three billion people, or 40% of the world’s population, rely on polluting open fires and inefficient fuels such as wood, charcoal, coal, and kerosene for cooking. The rural poor, mostly women, mostly have access only to fuels that are inefficient in converting to energy. This lack of access to cooking fuel forces women and children to spend many hours gathering it—as many as five hours per day—or spend significant household income purchasing it. In some cases, women provide 91% of households’ total efforts to collect fuel and water, and women have an average working day of 11-14 hours, compared to an average 10 hours for men. A reduction in time spent collecting fuel and cooking enables women to spend more time with their children, tend to other responsibilities, enhance existing economic opportunities, and pursue income-generating or educational opportunities, as well as leisure activities and rest—all of which contribute to poverty alleviation.
Women Are Crucial to Clean Cooking Solutions
Women play a crucial role in the widespread adoption and use of cleaner, more modern household cooking solutions, because of their central responsibility for managing household energy and cooking. As consumers and users of cookstoves, women are not only victims, but also a critical component of the clean cooking sector’s ability to scale. Women must be fully integrated into the process of designing products and solutions because without their opinions and input, products will not meet their needs and will not be used.
Our Gender Strategy
The Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) has a strategy to increase the role of women and address gender issues to achieve its goal of scaling adoption. Gender-informed practices help enterprises understand the impact of gender dynamics on their business, and help cooking sector players leverage opportunities to empower women and promote gender equality. The major challenges to scaling women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship include: enterprises’ lack of capacity to address gender issues; financing for gender components in projects; evidence of gender impacts in the sector; and the need to influence policies through awareness-raising and advocacy. CCA is addressing these challenges through research, training, development of tools, grant opportunities, national awareness campaigns, and high-level engagement with the energy sector and gender experts.
The strategic pillars of CCA's gender strategy are:
- Build the evidence and share data: CCA commissions research on the gender and social impacts of adoption of clean cooking solutions, the impact women can have on scaling adoption, and the most effective approaches for women’s empowerment and adoption. We are developing monitoring and evaluation methodologies and tools for measuring socioeconomic impacts. Our latest research demonstrates that women have the potential to increase sales and adoption when provided with agency-based training, and that households that use cookstoves more often report sending their children to school more often.
- Build capacity of enterprises: CCA is working to ensure that cookstove and fuel enterprises use gender-informed business models to ensure their effectiveness and sustainability, as well as to strengthen and scale their gender and empowerment impacts. Resources are needed to develop effective business models that empower women and use women’s entrepreneurship in the household energy sector, and to advance the sector through the exchange of lessons learned from successful and failed innovations.
- Increase access to finance: Access to finance is critical for all entrepreneurs, including women. CCA-funded Women’s Empowerment Fund (WEF) allows our partners to design and scale approaches that empower women, supporting the implementation of best practices for supporting women in the clean cooking value chain, as outlined in CCA’s Resource Guide. To ensure that grantees are integrating best practices for working with women and addressing gender issues, women-led energy small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will undergo gender due diligence to identify gaps, and CCA will make recommendations on how to address them. SMEs can then apply for funding to implement the recommendations. This activity will support and scale the number of women energy entrepreneurs working at the SME level, rather than targeting women energy entrepreneurs only at the micro level. The Capacity Building Facility connects enterprises with investors interested in gender impact and raises the awareness of investors about gender-informed business practices.
- Raise awareness: CCA is raising awareness of the harmful effects of polluting open fires and inefficient fuels and the benefits of clean cooking technologies, through national awareness campaigns and energy access education and awareness programs for youth who are affected by traditional cooking practices. CCA is working to ensure that national awareness campaigns adequately address the barriers and opportunities for women and girls, and that energy access is integrated into school curricula and extracurricular programs.
- Set and influence policies: Clean cooking solutions should be at the center of all policy efforts to achieve sustainable development. CCA advocates for leading gender organizations to more highly prioritize cooking energy as a global issue for women and girls, and for the energy sector globally to pay greater attention to and allocate increased funding for women’s economic empowerment activities.