The following is a guest-post by Ginny Wolfe, the Senior Director of Strategic Relationships at the ONE Campaign:
I’ve been thinking a lot about power lately–the kind I use to dry my hair and cook my dinner, to charge my iPhone and my (RED) mophie. Did you know your refrigerator alone uses around 9 times the amount of electricity as the average Ethiopian does in a whole year? This doesn’t make me feel guilty, but it certainly feels unfair. It’s unfair too that a lack of reliable power means many birthing clinics operate in the dark – using candles or mobile phones to light the way for a C-section in the middle of the night. It’s unfair that many of the world’s girls spend their days collecting wood and water—forfeiting the opportunity to go to school. It’s unfair that millions of women must use dangerous open fire cooking to prepare meals for their families – all too often leading to respiratory illness and death. And it’s unfair that because of a lack of refrigeration in so many parts of the world, children are denied life-saving vaccines and blood supplies that cannot be stored. Simply put, power – electricity – makes things happen.
This all leads me to ponder the other kind of power. The kind that makes things happens. For a long time I thought that the power to ignite change rested in the hands of the mighty few–like presidents and sheriffs. I’m glad to be wrong on this one. Today, on Malala Day, I think about how just one person, a 17-year-old girl at that, has used her personal power. Malala Yousafzai is one of the most visible examples of the so-called “powerless” using her voice to change harsh realities for the better. I imagine she’d be one of the first to say that each of us has the power to help bring electricity to 50 million more people in sub-Saharan Africa.
With access to energy, 50 million will have the power to better help themselves. From electricity in schools to a lamp for a young girl to study by at night; ready blood supplies to help accident victims to incubators for premature babies; refrigeration to help prevent crop spoilage – and thus loss of critical income—to street lights so girls are safe at night. Having power is a truly transformative thing.
There are so many ways we take electrical power for granted every, single day. While I will continue the (occasional) use of my hair dryer and daily use of my refrigerator and iPhone, I’ll also use my other kind of power to help bring electricity to those most in need, especially women and girls, who are often the most impacted.
Take Action Challenge
Join the ONE Campaign in their efforts to help the world’s women and girls at www.one.org/us/women/ and see how you can help electrify the African continent at www.power.one.org. What’s your #PoweredUpMoment?
Image credits: courtesy of ONE