European Union External Action

Yemen - Microgrid girl power amid war and COVID-19

10/11/2020 - 12:03
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The EU supports Yemeni women empowerment. A community near Abs is benefitting from an EU-funded project employing women to work on solar panels, providing the community with cheaper and renewable energy, while training women and giving them a stable income. “The project has built our self-reliance, confidence in participating in society and broken the red line in dealing with men,” says Iman, director of the station. “And we are now contributing to the family monthly budget to cover food and other necessities.”

gender equality, women empowerment
The ‘microgrid girls’ alongside solar panels at the project in Abs [Photo courtesy of SDF YEMEN]

 

Yemen ranks at the bottom of the UN gender equality index and there are very limited work opportunities for women, especially in rural areas.

“The role of women was housework only,” laments Huda Othman Hassan, a young woman from Abs, a rural district in the north of Yemen, near the border with Saudi Arabia. “Although we are educated and university graduates, we had no decision-making power and couldn’t work in any field.”

For the group managing this project in Abs, the work has been transformative.

Before the Abs station was built, Othman says, the high price of commercial electricity meant her community was unable to access it. “Most people used a flashlight or a five-watt bulb on a small battery,” she says.

Now, the solar microgrid provides the community with cheaper, clean, and renewable energy, while also tackling another major issue in this part of Yemen – helping women earn a stable income and gain new professional skills.

“At first, they made fun of us – that we want to do men’s work. But now, our community is respecting us, as we are business owners. They come to the station and ask us if there are opportunities. Now, they want their women to participate and succeed like the microgrid girls,” says Iman Ghaleb Al-Hamli, director of the station.

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