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“A better life, a better future”

Worldwide, nearly 39 million girls in school age in the early years of secondary school are enrolled in either primary or secondary, while two thirds of the 796 million illiterate adults are women. Only about a third of the country has reached parity between the sexes in secondary schools.

In Paris, 25 May, was celebrated the first anniversary of the UNESCO Global Partnership for the education of girls and women, “A better life, a better future.” The event was seen alongside Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, and members of the High Level Group of UNESCO on the education of girls and women for empowerment and equality of genders.

A round table was organized to reflect on successes, on how to increase and strengthen partnerships in order to make possible a wider investment in the education of girls and women, and to encourage through education, greater attention to gender equality in the international development agenda.

Participants at the roundtable, Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel Green Power, presented the draft in collaboration with the Barefoot College, the Barefoot College. Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College president, also participated in the roundtable. The project, based on enhancing the role of women in their communities, the objective of rural electrification in Latin America. EGP is the first Indian private partner college. A collaboration Starace says, is “a more efficient way to get in touch with the people who live in the vicinity of our plants. Especially different from that hitherto followed, unilateral, in which the role of communities was more passive as they were just given us something. In this way we wanted to honor them with a project that enabled them to take control of their future.’

Enhance the energy of women

Collaboration with the organization founded by Bunker Roy is part of the Enabling Electricity with which Enel Group is committed to making available electricity to 2 million people by 2013. “We believe that having or not having the energy is discriminating,” said Starace continues: “So making energy available to all is essential to improve living standards, in particular the conditions of women and children, and provide a real economic and social development. “About 20 communities are involved in this adventure, selected in Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Colombia, the objective is to provide photovoltaic installations to 1,000 homes by the end of 2013. “The method invented by Bunker Roy is very innovative because it entrusts these villages a small solar power plant, acquired symbolic, forming together a group of grandmothers, which are taught basic techniques to install, manage and operate the small plant in time, “says the director of EGP. A group of 10 grandmothers is already in India to become “Barefoot solar engineers”, others will leave in September for training. “These women understand the opportunity that is provided to them. Many of them are motivated and show courage in embarking on this adventure, “says Mr. Roy. Most of these grandmothers have never exceeded the boundaries of their village.

Take a plane to live six months in a place where they speak another language is a real shock. The major difficulty lies in the removal of children and grandchildren. Courage rewarded. When they go home, they are transformed women: experience makes stronger, more confident. “We chose to train grandmothers because they never leave their family or village,” explains the director of Barefoot College recognizes that education is the key to changing society. “Education is fundamental. Bring the power in the villages is to develop night schools for children or adults who have to work in the fields during the day.” The project provides energy autonomy by giving these villages grandmothers more confidence in their abilities and making them become a model for other women: a revolution for these communities.

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