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Barefoot and empowered: NZ’s link to solar grandmas

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From a village in India, New Zealand-born 2018 Hillary Laureate Meagan Fallone is bringing solar electricity to some the poorest people in the most remote corners of the world reports Farah Hancock for Newsroom.

She’s the inspirational and aspirational CEO of The Barefoot College, an institution which helps train rural women to be solar engineers. The 3000 engineers it has trained, mainly grandmothers with limited literacy, generate 1.4 gigawatts of clean electricity a year.

“They are pretty powerful, no pun intended,” said Fallone, who estimates the grandmothers generate electricity for roughly one million people.

“We see woman as an under-utilised and under-valued resource in the developing world. They have been left out of a formal education process ... we’re trying to put that on its head.”

The social enterprise college is based on the approach of Mahatma Gandhi, who Fallone said recognised the abundance of knowledge in communities. A lack of formal education is no barrier to acceptance to the college’s programmes, which include solar engineering, water sanitation and the teaching of artisan industries.  Continue to the full article >>