Gender and Renewable Energy as New Opportunity for Women Entrepreneurship
In the months of July and August, the RDI team embarked on a research expedition to Sumba Island to study and assess the Sumba Iconic Island (SII) development initiative. The Sumba Iconic Island development project was a collaborative effort involving numerous stakeholders, both governmental and non-governmental, with active community participation. Among the critical issues and research questions explored during this project was the impact of renewable energy on gender dynamics.
To gather insights and information, the RDI team conducted field visits and engaged in discussions with various entities, including government agencies such as the Local Planning Agency and Women Empowerment Agency, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private companies, and local communities. The geographical layout of Sumba Island presented a challenge, as the villages were scattered across the island, resulting in significant travel distances between them and the district capitals.
Through these consultations, RDI aimed to evaluate how the introduction of renewable energy products could enhance family economic productivity and create opportunities for women in entrepreneurship. Prior to the intervention, both women and men faced limitations due to the lack of adequate lighting, which restricted their activities at night. With the introduction of lanterns, women gained more productive hours in the evenings to engage in activities such as weaving cloth or baking, while children could study after dark. Men also benefited from increased productivity, with opportunities for nighttime fishing or crafting cleaver (parang) cases. This boost in economic productivity contributed to higher family incomes.
Sumba Island primarily relies on farming as a source of income, but the returns from crop sales are often modest. Therefore, the intervention had a significant positive impact on the island's communities, as it improved family incomes and overall well-being. Moreover, the program provided training on gender mainstreaming and business models, further enhancing the socio-economic landscape of the region.