Empowerment is the process of obtaining basic opportunities for marginalized people, either directly by those people, or through the help of non-marginalized others who share their own access to these opportunities. It includes actively thwarting attempts to deny those opportunities. It equally includes encouraging, and developing the skills for, self-sufficiency, with a focus on eliminating the future need for charity or welfare in the individuals of the group.
Most women across the globe rely on the informal work sector for an income. If women were empowered to do more and be more, the possibility for economic growth becomes apparent. Empowering women in developing countries is essential to reduce global poverty since women represent most of the world’s poor population. Eliminating a significant part of a nation’s work force on the sole basis of gender can have detrimental effects on the economy of that nation. In addition, female participation in counsels, groups, and businesses is seen to increase efficiency. Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities.
The private sector is a key partner in efforts to advance gender equality and empower women. Co2balance has played a very important role in empowering women by disseminating ICS to Aberdares region in Kenya. This has impacted positively on the lives of the community by creating more time for education for young growing girls, mothers of tomorrow, relieving domestic duties burden by reducing the number of hours used to fetch firewood from the forest and cooking time. Collectively reducing health hazards associated with open traditional fires and reducing respiratory infections; just to mention a few of the many benefits this community boasts of.
One Miriam Wairimu is a representation of the many happy faces and testimonies that we recently sampled in Aberdares Carbon Zero Cook stoves project area. As a wife, mother and a farmer Miriam prides in Carbon Zero ICS which has helped her manage her time better by reducing the amount of time used for wood harvesting therefore giving her enough time to attend to her family, farm and livestock. She notes that with her extra time she is able to engage in other economic activities which have enabled her create a source of income for her family. She says that with this improved cook stove she is empowered to advance her life something she is very much committed to do.
Many women in Miriam’s village, Kimende, look up to her for guidance in modern agricultural practices that also count as conservation models like Intercropping.
Miriam is happy to say, “The money and time I used on firewood is now used for farm inputs. I am very proud of the carbon zero stove and may God bless and pro-long the life of Carbon Zero Kenya founders just as they have to ours!”
Compiled by; Martin Munene, Virginia Njata and Moses Maina