What do business leaders, presidents, actors, Grammy-nominated musicians, and world-renowned chefs all have in common?
They all believe that access to clean cookstoves and fuels is critical for achieving women's empowerment – which is why this group of high-profile men is speaking out about this under-reported issue for International Women's Day.
Every day, more than three billion people globally rely on heavily-polluting open fires or traditional cookstoves for cooking, leading to more than four million deaths every year caused by breathing in large amounts of toxic cooking smoke. When families do not have access to clean cookstoves and fuels, it is women and girls who suffer most. And it isn’t just the dire health impacts from the harmful smoke – women spend many hours gathering fuel, sometimes up to five hours each day, which is time they could use to pursue other opportunities, such as earning income or education.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it is important to share not just what many influential women have said about this important global issue, but also the perspectives of prominent men who recognize that access to clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels is a proven and tangible way to increase gender equality, support sustainable development, and enable economic growth in developing countries:
42nd President of the United States
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is making progress on a solvable issue that negatively impacts millions of women and children worldwide. Proving what can happen when the private sector, governments, nonprofit and civic organizations work together, the collective efforts of the Global Alliance with members of the Clinton Global Initiative will enable 100 million households to adopt clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020."
Actor and Cookstove Champion
In the process of filming the documentary Dukale’s Dream in Ethiopia, I saw firsthand the serious health and environmental impacts of cooking over open fires. Women and children suffer from respiratory illnesses by breathing smoky air each time they prepare meals for their families. We need to raise awareness about this deadly issue and improve women’s health by providing access to clean cookstoves and fuels."
John Dramani Mahama
President of Ghana
I have seen countless women in Ghana suffering from chronic illnesses caused from breathing in smoke from cooking fires and girls carrying large amounts of firewood to burn. But we can change this. On International Women’s Day and as we strive to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, we must do everything to ensure that clean cooking is a local and global priority."
UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
In Africa, women can spend four hours per day collecting firewood, time that could be better spent learning or earning. That’s why clean and affordable energy and cooking are important factors to ensuring that girls and women are educated and empowered. The UK Government is a proud partner of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves."
Secretary of State
One of the many reasons addressing climate change is so critical is the fact that climate solutions not only safeguard our environment – they also safeguard the health of women and their families around the world. The work that the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is doing is a perfect example of how simple, but critical improvements can benefit communities in a number of different ways. By empowering women in developing countries to choose to cook with cleaner cookstoves and fuels, we can cut down on the harmful greenhouse gas emissions coming from dirty, outdated stoves. At the same time, we will better protect those who use these appliances – predominantly women and girls – from inadvertently breathing in toxic fumes as they work to feed their loved ones."
Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Infosys Limited
This International Women’s Day, I am speaking out about the importance of women’s health and well-being not only for gender equality, but also for economic success and sustainability. By ensuring women have access to clean cooking solutions, they will experience multiple benefits through health, livelihoods, and socio-economic well-being. Clean cooking is a particularly compelling opportunity to improve the lives of women and their families in India."
Akinwumi A. Adesina
President, African Development Bank
We must do all possible to support women who suffer the most from reliance on using solid biomass to cook, with children on their backs, working so hard to feed their households."
Chef José Andrés
Chef/Owner of ThinkFoodGroup
Women are the majority of the world’s cooks, and in developing countries they are impacted the most from traditional cooking methods, which produce smoke and pollutants that can be dangerous to both their health and the environment. Everyone needs access to clean and renewable cooking methods, which will help save lives and improve the health of millions of women and their families around the world."
Turner Enterprises and Founder and Chairman of the United Nations Foundation
The Alliance’s successful market-based, multi-stakeholder model has helped an increasing number of women and girls have access to clean cookstoves and fuels as consumers, users, and market players. The UN Foundation is proud to be a founding partner of this initiative that is contributing to women’s empowerment through tangible solutions, and also contributes to environmental protection, energy access, public health, and economic development.”
Cooking is a joyful thing, but in developing countries, there is a huge cost to it. People are starting to wake up about the dangers of household air pollution from cooking smoke. People often focus only on big solutions, but the small things – like how people cook their food -- if we can change it for the better – it can change millions of lives, especially for women and girls, who are the most affected."
Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
The Alliance continues to play a critical role in building a global market for clean cookstoves. This is helping to bring cleaner energy to women around the world, which can help improve health and protect the environment."
Sri Arun Jaitley
Finance Minister, India
Women of India have faced the curse of smoke during the process of cooking. According to experts having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour. The time has come to remedy this situation."
Willpower, technology and innovation will solve the greatest social and economic issues of our time. Clean cookstoves and fuels are a clear example of how socially-minded interventions can bring many desired benefits to the global economy, while also having a major impact on women’s empowerment, which will have a multiplier effect on the well-being of their households and communities. Unilever is proud to be partnering with many to achieve impact on this issue."
Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme and Under-Secretary-General of the UN
The emissions from cookstoves and open fires cause millions of premature deaths per year, and women in developing countries are disproportionately the victims of this preventable tragedy. Clean cookstoves are a simple and effective way to deliver dramatic health and livelihood benefits to women in particular, while also improving energy efficiency, reducing ecosystem damage and contributing to the fight against climate change."
Renowned Indian Chef
Women do most of the cooking in India, and they often have to spend hours breathing in toxic smoke as they cook. We must better protect women’s health from the curse of smoke by increasing access to clean cooking energy, which can have a multiplier effect on the overall economy."
In developing regions throughout the world, women do most of the cooking and often spend hours breathing toxic smoke from wood-burning ovens. We must better protect women from this damaging practice by increasing access to clean cooking mechanisms such as concrete stoves, which can have a multiplier effect on the overall economy."
Women are caretakers, homemakers, nurses, cooks, farmers and mothers to their kids and others – and that’s before they go to work. Having a clean cookstove in the house that uses less fuel means women can take back the time they spent collecting firewood, or the money they spent buying charcoal and put it towards better opportunities for their families and themselves."
Black Stars soccer team, Ghana
For me, it’s very simple – cooking should never be a hazard to the health and well-being of women and their families. If cooking kills, then I don’t want to eat."
COO, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
Women and girls spend many hours each day on unpaid work – including cooking and collecting fuel. Access to clean cooking solutions can reduce time spent on cooking and fuel collection, allowing women and girls to pursue other opportunities, such as education and earning income."
Chef, Montauk Yacht Club
Cooking causes major health issues for women in Haiti, where nearly 90 percent of the population cooks with heavily polluting solid fuels. International Women's Day is a perfect time to raise awareness about this deadly issue and encourage people to use cleaner cookstoves and fuels."