Pooja Poddar Marwah

Nothing can stop us, now!

Whenever women step out of their comfort zones into a normal world, i.e. a man’s world.. it makes headlines.

Whenever women decide to drive, teach or work beyond the kitchen and house.. it makes headlines.

It never ceases to amuse me how every little achievement of ours is considered to be ‘unique’ – to be splashed across the front pages of every newspaper of the region.

But we aren’t complaining.  We are made of sugar, spice and all that is nice!

The women in war torn Yemen are grappling with poverty, unemployment and of course, the omnipresent Covid 19. Unwilling to conform to societal pressure and stay home, they adorn their burkha’s and step out – into a man’s world! Intelligent, strong and determined.

Ten women spearheaded by Huda Othman Hassan set up a solar microgrid amidst much speculation. They were educated university graduates but their capabilities were doubted greatly as they had never left their kitchens. Focussed to make a change in the lives around them, these women with the aid of UNDP, have been able to provide for cheaper, cleaner and renewable energy. Commercial electricity that was once unaffordable has now lit up the homes and livelihoods of thousands around them.

“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,” said one of the Hassan’s ‘microgrid girls’, as they are popularly referred to.

In a region where food and fuel was very scarce, these microgrids are producing and selling solar power thereby making a sustainable income for themselves and those around them.

From having to sleep at 7 pm due to no electricity, to now being able to work through the night to stich, teach or learn a technological skill, a number of families across the Community are able to add to their income substantially.

They were recently awarded the 2020 Ashden Award for Humanitarian Energy.

A spokesperson of the Charity commented  – “You are going to put this very expensive equipment in the hands of people who have never done that, it could be over within four months. But now more than a year on, the grid is still working, generating energy and incomes, and nothing has been stolen or vandalised. The community sees the benefits of it and protects it.”

The Microgrid girls are a leading example of how despite all odds, they could build a whole new world around themselves!

I have always believed that the hand that rocks the cradle is the one that rules the world… Maybe it is time for the world to acknowledge that to make a difference socially, economically and emotionally – women power is the only way to be!

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