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Empowering women through solar energy

UNEP has contributed to a discussion highlighting women’s crucial role in development following the screening in Brussels of an Italian award-winning documentary titled ‘Bring the Sun Home’.


The documentary, directed by Chiara Andrich and Giovanni Pellegrini, tells the story of Illiterate women from villages around the world with no electricity who attend a course in India to learn how to install solar panels. Those who completed the course returned as solar engineers and have brought power and lighting to more than 300,000 people.


The screening on 18 November at the Italian Cultural Institute was opened by the film’s producer Lucia Gotti Venturat and was followed by a lively Q&A with Antonella Santilli - Head of Sustainability for Enel Green Power - and Thierry Lucas, European Coordinator of the Biodiversity and the Ecosystems Management Subprogramme at UNEP.


Ms Santilli indicated that although the impact of the project on economic development is still being assessed, “on the field it is visible that the wealth and safety of the people is improving”. The Barefoot College in India, where the women were trained, is in fact thinking of starting similar centers elsewhere in the world such as Africa or Latin America, she noted.


“Women are in charge of transmitting education, so change starts with them” stated Thierry Lucas, with women being of UNEP’s seven major groups and stakeholders it works with.


Mr Lucas also spoke of UNEP’s en.lighten initiative, which was established to accelerate a global market transformation to environmentally sustainable, energy efficient lighting technologies, as well as to develop strategies to phase-out inefficient incandescent lamps to reduce CO2 emissions and the release of mercury from fossil fuel combustion.


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