1 March 2014

The Indian response: How to energize women

Kalpana Sharma

Sharma is a columnist for and former deputy editor of The Hindu, a newspaper based in...


Lack of access to modern energy services represents a pressing problem in the developing world, not least for women. Many poor women spend much of their time on menial work that could be performed much more easily if energy were available, and safety concerns often prevent women from going out at night where there are no streetlights. Children suffer too—more than 50 percent of the developing world’s children attend primary schools that lack electricity, and this can lead to markedly worse educational outcomes. Access to modern energy services might be improved through, among other approaches, establishing small-scale hydroelectric projects, facilitating the use of home solar systems, or providing grid electricity (which itself might be produced either with conventional fuels or through renewable means). Three authors—Kalpana Sharma of India, Dipak Gyawali of Nepal (2014), and Corinne Hart of the United States (2014)—discuss which methods of expanding energy access show most promise for improving the lives of the developing world’s poor women and children.