From where I stand: “Sustainable Energies are Especially Useful for Women”

Date: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Nino Gamisonia; Photo: Annabelle Avril 
I first came across renewable energies some eight years ago. The Rural Communities Development Agency, where I work now, is one of the organizations that has specialized in the utilization of solar energy for households in rural areas of Georgia. I have attended several trainings and learned how to set up and maintain a simple solar water heater, as well as to offer cheap, clean energy to people living in rural areas. I realized that we can use our abundant Georgia sun for great purposes. I was so excited! I remember speaking about solar power capabilities to everyone.

Together with my friends and colleagues, I started teaching people in the regions how to use the power of nature to improve their everyday lives. We were, literally, pioneers: we organized meetings in villages, formed groups of people interested in learning about alternative energy sources, and showed them how to build and use solar heaters.

Solar water heaters are very important for people living in rural areas, especially for women: it is mainly they who use warm water to do laundry and wash dishes, cook, tidy up rooms and care for children and family members. Solar heaters are inexpensive to build, comfortable to use and friendly to the environment and health. They are very energy-efficient too. Currently, almost 30 per cent of annual household income in rural Georgia is spent on energy. This is a huge portion of annual income, the average of which is very low in rural areas. With the savings, families can buy a washing machine or a dishwasher, reducing women’s workload. They can then use their time for themselves or activities they normally do not have time for. Maybe this explains why women are big supporters of solar water heaters.

With me and my colleagues’ support, Georgia currently has five power cooperatives established to assemble, sell and promote solar water heaters, and I am a member of one of them. As a rule, and according to the cooperatives’ Charter, women should constitute at least 40 per cent of all cooperative members and be represented at all levels of management. Their engagement in ensuring access to renewable energies is very important.

Nino Gamisonia, project coordinator at the Rural Communities Development Agency, has been working on promoting and ensuring access to solar power since 2009. Currently, she is a member of one of the power cooperatives, R-Clean Energy, which is engaged in setting up solar water heaters and selling them in the regions. With her activities, Nino Gamisonia supports the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7, which is focused on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.