Interview: Empowering women in South and Southeast Asia with finance for solar
(The Third Pole, 25 Oct 2023) UNEP programme manager Parimita Mohanty speaks about the successes and challenges of a project that supports women from Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh to use solar power for their agricultural businesses.
Today, solar panels can be spotted in farms across many parts of South and Southeast Asia. Most of these power irrigation pumps, but an increasing number are used by agri-businesses, including those run by women.
EmPower: Women for Climate Resilient Societies, a joint programme of UN Women and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), is supporting women-owned solar-powered agri-businesses by helping women to get loans to buy equipment and sell their products. The programme aims to reduce women’s vulnerability to climate change in a two- phase project, with the first, pilot phase covering 2018-2022 and the second starting in 2023.
In its pilot phase, the programme helped women entrepreneurs through 40 projects in Cambodia, 13 in Vietnam and 12 in Bangladesh. The projects promote the use of solar power to irrigate farms; access clean drinking water; and power chicken coops, among other things. The project has also supported women entrepreneurs in getting their products to market, by helping them get in touch with potential buyers and training them in checking current prices for goods.