Cooperatives promote gender equality and combat energy poverty in rural Georgia – featured article on Energy Democracy

The 66th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women takes place this week, focussing on gender equality and the empowerment of all women & girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes. To mark this occasion Transnational Institute and WECF’s Anna Samwel joined hands and  published a new case study on how cooperatives in rural Georgia are promoting gender equality and combatting energy poverty. 

Many people in rural Georgia, particularly women, are affected by energy poverty. Relying on unsustainably harvested firewood for their energy needs is expensive and labour-intensive and leads to health-damaging indoor air pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Non-governmental organization Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) and local partners have developed solar water heaters and energy efficient stoves that reduce the need for firewood and improve comfort and health, bringing down air pollution, unpaid labour and energy bills by 20–50 per cent.

Four community-based energy cooperatives have been set up to produce, promote and install these new technologies. These cooperatives are democratically governed by their members, encourage women empowerment through leadership training, gender quotas for the decision-making positions and generally integrating women’s concerns in the project approach. By 2021, more than 1,000 solar water heaters and 300 energy efficient stoves were functioning, and recently more were installed in kindergartens and small guesthouses.

You can read the full case study here