Faculty Research Mentors:
- Economic empowerment as a result of solar. Households using solar lanterns consistently increase their financial assets through acquiring savings from no longer purchasing kerosene. Beyond these gains, many individuals used their increased lighting time from solar to initiate new income-generating activity or further current business(es). In addition, many participants reported greater control over financial decisions because of solar.
- Inconsistent impact on women’s agency. The adoption of solar lanterns seemed to positively impact women in more abstract ways, such as perceiving increased respect in the household and community. However, women did not appear to report increased agency based on more tangible signs of change, such as learning a new skill or attending more public meetings. Women nevertheless appeared to associate economic opportunity with agency.
- Saving time, protecting health, and strengthening education. Solar impacts areas that reach far beyond merely the provision of light itself. Before solar, individuals used to spend 1.45 hours on average traveling each week to obtain kerosene. In addition, more than ⅔ of participants reported negative health effects as a result of kerosene, while an overwhelming 94.2% of participants shared that their children’s academic performance increased since their households starting using solar.
- A white paper on the power of solar to spark economic opportunity and agency. This will highlight the benefits of solar lanterns, examining patterns in customer characteristics, uses, and impacts of solar. It will focus on the differential use of solar by men and women, solar entrepreneurs and customers, and households with and without electricity. Our findings will provide insight into the impact of Solar Sister’s reach while enhancing understanding of the impact of solar in rural locations.
- A peer-reviewed journal article on the gendered impact of solar lanterns. Building on the white paper, we will undertake a formal research paper to further examine solar usage and the impact across groups. It will examine how solar technology affects the gendered workload through task shifting, differential use of solar by men and women, and the economic uses of solar technology.