The old adage goes when you educate a woman, you educate a nation. Many international development agencies are spending more time reaching out and empowering marginalized women around the world with skills that will also help their communities.
The new documentary Solar Mamas follows a group of women who attend classes on sustainable engineering at India’s Barefoot College, the world’s only college built and run by the poor. The film follows Jordanian mother Rafea and other great women from Guatemala, Kenya, Burkina Faso and Colombia as they train themselves to make solar panels. Approximately 1.6 billion people in the world are living without access to electricity. Most of these people use wood, coal or even dung to heat and cook in their homes, which can result in indoor air pollution that kills 1.6 million people a year. Providing solar education to those living in powerless areas are part of a growing movement looking at sustainable energy as a way to deal with poverty and environmental problems simultaneously.
Solar Mamas also highlights the growth many of the women go through in their college experience and the gender politics they encounter. Rafea, the Jordanian mother, is threatened by her husband to stop her education or he will divorce her and take away their children.
The film was made by Mona Eldaief and Jehane Noujaim, famed directors of Control Room and Startup.com. Solar Mamas is part of a series called Why Poverty?, a multimedia project that looks at the causes and possible solutions to global poverty. The series includes eight documentary features and 30 online short films which will be shown on over 60 international television broadcasters as well as radio, internet, and live events throughout November and December.
To find out more about Solar Mamas and Why Poverty?, click here.