Federal German Minister for Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul emphasizes the importance of training in the promotion of solar cooking.

Federal German Minister for Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul emphasizes the importance of training in the promotion of solar cooking.

In the last legislative period, the German Federal Government decided to translate gender mainstreaming into action in all ministries. What does this mean for the work of your Ministry?

For us it means that equality of the sexes is a cross-cutting task in all sectors of development co-operation. Our programmes and projects should be equally useful for women and men, and women and men should also have equal input into shaping the programmes. Primarily, we have taken this approach because we know that if we want to reach the goal of halving the number of absolutely poor people by 2015, it must be done together with women.

You see sustainable energy as a key task of development politics. Do you think that women and men have different contributions to bring to the process?

Women suffer the most if modern and sustainable energy is not available. Millions of women and children have to spend many hours a day collecting wood and dung for fuel. In addition there are the health burdens: every year, two million people, most of them women and children, are dying from respiratory illnesses linked to smoke from the open fires used for cooking. Especially for women, sustainable energy is very important. In other words: a sustainable and clean energy supply is useful for women in particular.

In Johannesburg you launched a special programme to support sustainable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries. Could you please outline what the programme will comprise?

The programme “Sustainable Energy for Development“ consists of three main elements. Firstly, we will spend one million euros over the next five years in our partner countries, to support renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. Secondly, we will build up a partnership with the private sector. Enterprises in the solar and wind energy branches are pursuing interests that widely overlap with ours in development cooperation. Thirdly, we will expand our multilateral co-operation in the energy sector, and we will focus more than we have in the past on the goal of sustainable development.

For example, we will participate in a number of initiatives brought into being in Johannesburg to support sustainable energy in development co-operation. A stronger involvement of the World Bank in sustainable energy is also important. As a governor of the World Bank I will do what I can to see that this happens.

How do you think the outcomes of WSSD will affect women’s access to sustainable energy sources in the next decade?

A massive short-term increase in energy consumption in developing countries has been the conclusion of all prognoses. Indeed, this is inevitable in order to fight poverty and enable the economy to grow and generate employment. The World Summit contributed to clarifying the challenges that governments, enterprises, and the energy industry are facing: to create a sustainable energy future, to make access to affordable energy easier, and to ‘decarbonise’ global energy systems in order to protect the climate. It is not an easy path, and not all people yet really understand the significance. Resolutions must now be followed by action. This will help especially women to overcome poverty.

How are women involved in the programme and how will they gain from it?

The programme can be successful only if the poor are intensively involved. Because women are the main users of household energy, they must be involved equally as partners.

Where are the difficulties in addressing ‘gender and energy‘ in development cooperation in your Ministry, and are there positive examples or best practices among your projects?

There are always initial difficulties when new technologies are introduced – that’s a fact of life in Germany, and it is the same in developing countries. For example, it needs a different sort of technical competence to cook with solar cookers than to use a dungbased stove. Because we know this very well, we accompany the introduction of such new technologies with information campaigns to explain simply the operation of the new technology as well as the financial benefits.

For more information, please contact:
Bundesministerium fuer wirtschaftliche
Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung,
Sybille Tepper, Pressestelle,
Stresemannstr. 94, D-10963 Berlin,
Germany; Email: tepper@bmz.bund.de

==> the original article can be found on the Energia web site

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