International Women's Day
We are proud today to support International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people.
The theme this year is #Break the Bias: individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions so we can all do something to effect change and break the bias in our communities, workplaces, schools, colleges and universities.
For us at DelAgua it’s an opportunity to celebrate the women we serve and our brilliant women who help deliver the Tubeho Neza programme.
The team in Rwanda is led by Country Director Monica Keza who joined us in 2021. Monica is driving the expansion of our programme so that we will be distributing 350,000 stoves this year, with the goal of 1 million stoves by the end of 2022 and 2.3 million in total, 1 provided free to every rural household. Monica brings expert local understanding, building relationships with local government and communities as well as overseeing the remarkable logistical effort required to get the stoves to households in the remote, difficult to access countryside but where they are desperately needed.
Monica’s team includes 8 women who are District Managers (some pictured at top of page L to R: Monica Keza, Dative Mukeshimana, Marie Christelle Ishimwe, Grace Mutavu & Louise Mugabekazi). Each will typically be managing local distribution gatherings each of up to 400 households and coordinating the teams of Community Health Workers (CHWs), the smartphone technology, household data capture and stove registrations. The 4,000 CHWs, the majority of whom are women, are key to the programme’ s success as they provide the education and support to enable the families to change their cooking behaviours and use the DelAgua stove rather than traditional open fires. Such is their effectiveness that 2 years after distribution 90% of stoves are in daily use, cutting carbon emissions and household air pollution. It’s these women who are making Tubeho Neza the biggest stoves project of its kind in the world today, improving the lives of 3 million people and combating climate change.
Today we also want today to shine a light on the women who receive our stoves. 95% of household cooking in rural Rwanda is done by women and girls and 90% cook on traditional open fires. The daily drudgery of wood collection, tending the fire, food preparation, cooking and cleaning up occupies as much as 8 hours every day. This excludes women from more productive activities, girls miss school and both suffer disproportionately from chronic lung, eye and heart illness caused by smoke from the fire.
The DelAgua stove uses 71% less wood, requiring only small twigs and tinder, so time spent collecting wood is dramatically reduced. The stove lights easily and cooks quickly, saving more time and because the stove is designed to be used outdoors and burns cleanly: emissions are cut by 81% compared to open fires, household air pollution and associated illness is reduced.
When women are freed from the fire they have the time to invest in other activities, for example the opportunity to set up a micro-enterprise, cultivating their land and improving crop yields and girls can complete their education. The UN’s Clean Cooking Association states “Providing women access to modern energy is a critical but often overlooked means of empowering women and advancing gender equality.” By providing a stove, Tubeho Neza is helping # Break the Bias for Rwanda’s women.
You can find out more about Monica and her team and the women who receive our stoves here.