4 ways clean cooking can elevate the status of women and girls

I used to be busy all the time. Cooking with traditional cookstoves was time-consuming. Now I have time to grow vegetables, which we eat and also sell in the market. Not only am I spending my time more efficiently and breathing better, but also supporting my family.

— Sita, India

Around the world, gender and social norms keep many women at home, burdened with unpaid work. Globally, women spend three times as many hours in unpaid care work as men, the vast majority of which is spent on routine household work such as cooking, cleaning, collecting water and firewood. The resulting time poverty from these daily obligations creates significant financial and opportunity costs that perpetuate poverty among women.

I believe I can be successful with this stove business building on what I learned from the empowerment training. I gained self-confidence from public speaking, business dealings with new people, and have learned how to respond to difficult questions since joining the program.

— Chan, Myanmar

Women can be economically empowered through their engagement in the clean cooking sector. When women enter the marketplace as entrepreneurs and are adequately supported, they have immense potential to spur economic growth. In fact, a study in Kenya found that women cookstove entrepreneurs sold three times as many cookstoves as their male peers when given the same level of training and support.

Narayani (center) from Chattisgarh, India, a beneficiary of the Ujjwala LPG program in India.

We can’t buy time, but we can buy LPG and save time

—Narayani

The impact of cooking over open fires using solid fuels disproportionately affects the lives of women and girls, so clean cooking initiatives must be developed through a gender lens. Too often, policies and initiatives fail to meet their goals because they are not designed with the end user in mind — women. Women are often the producers, users, and sales agents of clean cooking solutions, so policies and interventions must be designed through a gendered lens to be successful.

As a woman and as a refugee, I believe that you should get light and cooking fuel. If we get light and fuel for cooking, we can work more, study more and enjoy our time together more. And if we can do all that, I believe we will be able to do anything.

—Halima

Women like Halima, a refugee who was forced to flee her home in Somalia, often have to leave everything behind and start over in dire conditions. This includes lack of access to electricity and reliable cooking fuel. Approximately 80% of displaced people living in camps rely on biomass fuels, such as firewood and charcoal, for cooking. When women and girls leave their camp to collect firewood for cooking, they are at risk of being attacked and beaten.

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Clean Cooking Alliance

Clean Cooking Alliance

No one’s life should be limited by how they cook. Visit www.CleanCookingAlliance.org for more info — Join the #CleanCookingIs movement www.CleanCooking.is