If the world were represented by 100 people, 15 would be without electricity. This week, one day after the Indian Independence Day a team from Barefoot College were in Tailevu, Fiji to announce the Pacific Island initiative. A program of retraining for new technology that will affect 2,800 households across the 14 Pacific Island Countries is aimed at creating Solar Engineers to install and maintain solar systems and further enabling them to become professional solar trainers.
Following last year’s FIPIC meetings held in Jaipur, India, a sanction was given to barefoot College to implement the Women’s Barefoot Solar Engineering initiative across the following Islands: Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nuie, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, and Papua New Giuinea.
Not only will this initiative deliver renewable energy but also develop civil society mechanisms in communities. Changing social norms, habits and values at community level, teaching communities the power of becoming true stakeholders in their own development.
Most importantly empowering women with knowledge across the most critical areas of technology, digital skills, micro enterprise skill building, financial awareness, women’s health, and the development of women aspirations and agency.
– Meagan Fallone, CEO Barefoot College
We have a responsibility to value and honour the skills, wisdom and knowledge of those not formally educated, the marginalized, discounted and those so often undervalued and under utilized.
– Meagan Fallone
Barefoot College, has for more than 40 years held these beliefs at the centre of every program we have pioneered. Beyond that we are an organisation whose story of growth development and expansion into what we have become today, sits squarely on the backs of a staff, more than 95% of whom have little to no formal education.
I have come to believe profoundly that true innovation comes in the space between necessity and survival. It is why no one is more innovative, more entrepreneurial or more inclined to work towards a communal benefit versus individual gain, than a rural women.
So today I would like to ask everyone here to hear the voices of our Pacific Island women.
Capable, strong, valuable and absolutely the answer in rural areas to developing economies, improving quality of life and better horizons for our children.
The Women Barefoot Solar Engineers of the Pacific……..Ladies can I ask you to stand and can I ask you to let your voices be heard throughout the Pacific with the simple phrase.”I CAN”
– Meagan Fallone