Women as leaders in clean and sustainable energy in Palestine

Jun 22, 2023

For many years PENGON / Friends of the Earth Palestine has advocated for energy sovereignty in Palestine. Working with communities under siege in Gaza and marginalised Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley, PENGON has supplied solar units so that families have clean energy.

Along the way PENGON grew to understand the impacts of energy scarcity on women, particularly on Bedouin women. In these communities, women are responsible for domestic care work and for producing yoghurt and cheese from sheep’s milk. Energy scarcity made this labour burdensome and time-consuming. Women were working longer days than men, leaving them little opportunity to do other things such as study or support their children’s education. Women were also under-represented in formal decision-making, notably regarding clean energy.

Image: Rasmeya Ali Jmassi in the Gaza Strip. “My daughter used to study using a battery operated light, and the mobile. It was really hard for her. At night when the batteries were empty we used to sit without lights.” Now her daughter is able to study in the evening, creating long-term positive impacts for her education. © Hussein Zohor / PENGON

An energy revolution is a gender revolution The project involved women and women’s organisations in drawing up proposals for Palestine’s clean energy future. Following women-led workshops, a framework was set for mainstreaming gender in Palestinian clean energy policy, including proposals for gender planning and budgeting. Interviews with women from Bedouin communities fed into a fact sheet, which included recommendations for the government to support women as leaders in clean energy. A legal review identified gaps in energy laws in relation to gender and was used as a lobbying tool by PENGON and partners. Women and community members install solar panels on houses, farms and public buildings, bringing light and energy to thousands. To scale up the impact PENGON has launched a 100% Renewable Energy Gaza campaign that is demanding global financing and technology transfer. They have started to link different systemic changes together – food, water, energy and an end to the Israeli occupation – under the banner of a ‘Just Recovery from COVID’. When people have power there is hope for all forms of justice, and for a more harmonious relationship between communities and ecosystems.

Image: Jaquaponics system powered by solar energy, Al Basma centre Arab Women’s Union, Beit Sahour, Palestine. © Hussein Zohor / PENGON

Find out more in Friends of the Earth International’s pathways to system change report.

System change is a powerful idea and a political struggle for a better world. Powerful because it’s about addressing the root causes of today’s ecological, economic and social crises. It is about making deep, far-reaching and lasting change that goes beyond winning individual campaigns.