Energising change: Clean cooking and the changing social position of women
The development community clearly recognises the urgency of switching to clean cooking solutions while also creating just energy systems by gainfully involving women as entrepreneurs in the clean cooking value chain. With this logic and a mission to develop and adopt technological interventions, TIDE, a civil society organisation from Karnataka, India, trains rural women as cook stove builders, in a bid to scale up women energy entrepreneurs. The present research undertaken in Tumakuru district of Karnataka revealed that while this initiative catalysed economic autonomy and empowerment of women entrepreneurs, it could not be dissociated from existing underlying socio-cultural factors, such as “caste” and “gender” differences, hindering women from breaking social barriers, as well as reaching their full potential as entrepreneurs. In societies characterised by spatially distributed caste practices and where gender prejudices are emboldened by social structures that continue to deny the principle of equality, introducing technological solutions for creating social change and bringing in just energy systems may seem to be a difficult and highly optimistic proposition. Yet the study implores that the noble goal of creating women entrepreneurship should not be abandoned, rather it should be informed by more inputs from various quarters to bring about transformative changes. .