Clean Cooking Capacity building training for women in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based violence activities in 2022.
Violence against women and girls remains one of the most common and widespread abuses of human rights in the world. It is considered a violation of women’s fundamental freedom and rights, which also hinders their ability to enjoy the freedom. The World. Health Organization (WHO) shows. that globally about 30% (1 in 3) of women have been subjected to either physical and or sexual. violence in their lifetime, with the majority of these victims. aged 15 — 49. The World Bank also reports that approximately 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual abuse, either from an intimate partner or not, 7% of women worldwide have been victims of sexual assault by someone other than a partner; globally 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner, and 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting.
Violence against women and girls remains a global epidemic, affecting millions of lives across diverse cultures and communities. It transcends geographical boundaries and socio-economic statuses, perpetuating a cycle of harm that hampers the progress of societies. To eliminate these deeply entrenched issues, it is imperative to adjust focus towards prevention rather than merely responding to its aftermath. In this introductory exploration, we delve into the significance of investing resources in preventive measures to eradicate violence against women and girls, paving the way for a safer and more equitable future. Such violence impedes gender equality and the achievement of a range of development outcomes. Clean Technology Hub, for instance, works to empower women and girls in Nigeria by providing training and mentoring to young women and girls and advocating for policies supporting clean energy and gender mainstreaming. The hub also hires female employees with little or no STEM background, facilitates opportunities for technical upskilling. through internal and external training, courses, and workshops, and puts them in roles that expose them with access to industry networks and technological expertise.
November 25 of every year, the United Nations observes the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It aims to raise awareness to the problem of violence against women and girls and to advocate for increased and more efficient measures to address it. Over time, the day has evolved into a global, widespread initiative that now incorporates 16 Days of Activism and the UNiTE campaigns.
Figure 1: A picture of a School sensitization program titled ‘’Sexual and Gender Based Violence, abuse and consent’’ in Akwa-ibom State.
CLEAN COOKING IN ADDRESSING GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
One of the ways that this menace can be addressed is through the introduction of a more efficient and cleaner method of cooking which reduces the need for women to collect firewood and. restrict their area of vulnerability. There are undoubtedly many accounts of women being sexually and physically assaulted when they are out gathering firewood or looking for food and water. Displaced and refugee women run the risk of physical and sexual assault, dehydration, and bodily injury when gathering firewood for hours on end.
The responsibilities. frequently placed on women and children, who spend time doing this. and preparing meals over smoky flames is daunting. Some of the problems related to cooking with solid fuels include time, poverty and ill health. In addition, there is a higher risk of gender-based violence (GBV) at home. The likelihood of domestic abuse by partners is higher for women and girls living in humanitarian contexts, and this risk may be exacerbated by fuel shortages that prevent them from cooking meals. When combined, acts of violence from both inside and outside the family pose a serious threat to public health.
WAYS IN WHICH CLEAN COOKING COULD REDUCE GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE.
Economic Empowerment: Clean Cooking initiatives help in promoting efficient and sustainable cooking technologies. It reduces their dependence on traditional and time-consuming cooking methods This not only contributes to environmental sustainability, but also empowers women economically. Transitioning to clean cooking methods often involves skill-building programs and entrepreneurship opportunities. This economic empowerment can act as a protective factor, reducing the financial vulnerability that makes women susceptible to various forms of violence.
Health Benefits: Clean Cooking technologies mitigate indoor air pollution.The women are less exposed to the smoke from the firewood. This reduces the risk of contracting deadly diseases such as cancer.. Improved health contributes to stronger, more resilient communities. Healthy and empowered women are better equipped to resist and respond to violence.
Less Outdoor Risks: Traditional cooking methods often require women and girls to collect firewood outdoors, exposing them to the risk of physical and sexual violence. Transitioning to clean cooking technologies that use alternative fuels or are more fuel-efficient reduces the need for frequent outdoor. collection.
Education: Cleaner and more efficient cooking technologies reduce the time spent on cooking tasks, allowing women and girls more time for education, work and other activities. This can contribute to their safety by minimizing exposure to risks associated with outdoor activities, especially in areas where violence is prevalent. It also gives them a chance to learn formally how best to serve their societies. UNESCO emphasizes education by fostering a culture of respect, equality and awareness from an early age, societies can disrupt harmful norms and attitudes. The transformative power of education in dismantling gender stereotypes and promoting healthy relationships (UNESCO, 2020). Educational initiatives that instill these values not only empower individuals to recognize and reject violence but also contribute to the creation of a more informed and empathetic society.
In conclusion, the 16days of Activism reflects on the collective strength and determination in raising awareness, ending gender-violence, fostering dialogue and promoting change. In other words, there is a consistent need to carry the momentum forward, amplify voices, challenge norms and work towards a world free from all forms of violence. When there is a unified voice against gender based violence, a future where every individual is treated with dignity, respect and equality is built and achieved.
Nneoma Eneh is Gender and Clean Cooking Lead at Clean Technology Hub.