Target: The six members of the “Rural Women Light Up Africa” Initiative, Esha Mohamed Mwanga, Sofia Hamisi Mnandi, Amina Hassani Nachingulu, Fatima Mohamed Mzungu, Mariam Issa Luwongo and Arafa Mwamba Halfani
Goal: Applaud efforts to bring electricity, and therefore independence, security and leadership, to rural Tanzanian women
In rural Tanzania, electricity is not taken for granted. In fact, up until about a year ago, the homes in most small communities were completely dark once the sun had set. Now these same homes in three rural villages in the Mtwara and Lindi districts stay brightly lit into the night, thanks to the efforts of six women engineers from four African countries. As trainees of the Barefoot College in Tilonia in India and members of the UN-supported “Rural Women Light Up Africa” Initiative, these women have helped to bring solar powered lighting units to over 200 homes.
The “Rural Women Light Up Africa” Initiative, begun in 2011, strives to “introduce a renewable and sustainable source of energy” to rural communities across the continent. Villagers pay a relatively low payment toward the cost of equipment and maintenance over a five-year period, and in return, the six women engineers provide them with solar panels, batteries, cell phone chargers and light bulbs. And because the electricity is solar powered, the need for highly flammable and costly kerosene has steadily dwindled in these villages.
However, the “Rural Women Light Up Africa” Initiative has brought more than just electricity to these small villages and communities. It has also brought an increased independence, security and sense of leadership to rural Tanzanian women. Women are taking on more and more community leadership roles with “at least four of the nine members of the Village Energy Committees [being] women and, in Nitekela, the Committee Chair is also a woman.” Furthermore, the ability to have light during nighttime hours provides women increased security from violence, as well as a means to further their education by doing homework and studying at the end of the day. In a report by UN Women, one young girl from the village of Chekeleni proclaimed, “my mother used to just be at home, now she has come back and is an engineer and a leader. She is on the Village Energy Committee. When I grow up I will also be a leader. Maybe I will be President.”
For rural Tanzanian women, the acquisition of electricity means more than just light. It provides them with increased safety, empowerment and a stronger voice. The six women engineers who have brought electricity to over 200 households in Tanzania have also provided women with ever-increasing independence. Thank these women for their efforts to bring sustainable, renewable energy to rural villages, and therefore to help improve the lives of all Tanzanian women.
Dear Members of the “Rural Women Light Up Africa” Initiative, Esha Mohamed Mwanga, Sofia Hamisi Mnandi, Amina Hassani Nachingulu, Fatima Mohamed Mzungu, Mariam Issa Luwongo and Arafa Mwamba Halfani,
Electricity is an important component of forward progress for any community. Your combined effort to bring renewable, sustainable, solar powered electricity to rural areas of Tanzania is both commendable and inspirational. You have provided these communities not only with actual, physical electricity, but also with an increased ability for forward progress.
Most notably, the women of these rural villages have greatly benefited from your endeavors. You have provided these women with increased security, independence and leadership. More and more women are taking important leadership roles in their villages, and many young girls are now able to further their education as a result of the electricity you have worked to provide. Furthermore, you have helped to create a precedent for other communities to follow.
Thank you for working to bring sustainable solar electricity to rural Tanzanian villages, as well as serving as role models to many women in these areas.
[Your Name Here]