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Shining a light on girls and women in Kenya

Did you know access to renewable energy is also a gender equality issue? 3 billion people still rely on traditional fuels like wood and kerosene for cooking and heating, and the heavy domestic burden of collecting and using these resources disproportionately falls on women and girls. This takes away time from their education and livelihood opportunities and puts their health and safety at risk.

“We see a lot of patients at our clinic who come in with severe burns from kerosene lamps or have been poisoned by the fumes,” one health worker explains. A lack of electricity for lighting and equipment in health facilities jeopardizes the health of mothers and babies.

Energy services are especially critical right now to powering our fight against COVID-19: running health care facilities and water systems, enabling communication technologies to share information and connecting us all to help stop the setback.

Merceline shows off her Plan International solar home system thanks to Team Girl.

Merceline uses a solar-powered home solution provided with the help of Because I am a Girl supporters.

To address these energy inequalities, Team Girl has helped families access over 3,000 solar power products, and all the benefits of clean renewable energy, in rural Kenya, while also empowering female entrepreneurs economically and socially.

"We were trained on the solar lamps and learned about entrepreneurial skills such as budgeting, saving and good customer relations among other topics."
– Merceline, an entrepreneur who is now benefiting from the project.

The highlights

* A sample of 30 female entrepreneurial households under the project.

The sale of the solar kits helped provide energy, light and opportunity to families, income and agency to female entrepreneurs and capital to savings groups – powering a cycle of solar success and social change for girls and women: see how by clicking below!

Brilliant outcomes

Click on each sun button for more information.

Click on each sun button for more information.

Along with investing in improved nutrition, many mothers are also using their savings to pay for their daughters’ school fees and uniforms: powering more girls’ access to education and improving their ability to learn and study.

“The girls use the solar light products to study for longer hours, unlike when the period of study was dependent on the amount of kerosene that had been purchased,” says one solar recipient. “Now they are able to do their homework comfortably. Seeing all the children get an education and food to eat really makes me happy,” Merceline smiles.

One secondary school purchased several solar products to allow children to study in the early morning and evening, which was not possible before. Recently, the school even celebrated its first students accepted into university – a direct result of their improved grades!

Sandy uses a Plan International solar lamp to study.

"I can now read at night and do my homework." – 17-year-old Sandy, recipient of a Plan International solar lamp.

“I am now saving 2,000 shillings (KES) every week. Before the start of the project I could hardly save 500 a week,” one young woman entrepreneur explains. Empowered by their training and their own source of income, women in the community are experiencing self-sufficiency and the freedom to exercise their rights, including decision-making power for the household and themselves!

“I am now rearing chickens. I don’t buy eggs anymore. I intend to save 100,000 KES by the end of the year and hire help to dig my farm where I will be able to plant vegetables for my household needs and sell the surplus.”

And, perhaps one of the brightest changes is how these women are tearing down gender stereotypes in families and in the community at large. Today, more local men are learning to value women as equal earners and peers. “They [female entrepreneurs] are responsible for change in the community and get the power and respect that comes with it. The community appreciates this work and sees the impact.”

Chengo, Zubeda and their son smile for a photo.

Many husbands, like Chengo (pictured here), are taking larger shares of the household chores and are shifting to make equal decisions with their partners, something, it was reported, had rarely happened before. “I advise men, when you marry, you’re not buying a possession. You should not restrict her from achieving her full potential,” shares Chengo, inspired and determined to drive more change in his community as an equality ally.

These vital solutions for girls and women must go on to help stop the setback of girls’ rights during this pandemic. And, thanks to the commitment of our incredible supporters and Team Girl members, together, we’re able to help girls and women living in rural Kenya power a brighter future for their communities, even during the most challenging of times.Thank you for helping make it possible.