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The 'Nuisance': Breaking New Ground for African Women in the Energy Value Chain

'I am a nuisance for a good cause,' says Faustina Boakye. Of an age where many people are slowing down, Boakye is in the process of ...

'I am a nuisance for a good cause,' says Faustina Boakye. Of an age where many people are slowing down, Boakye is in the process of revving up as the former journalist-turned-climate activist gets busy plugging women into the energy value chain across the continent.

At 67, Faustina Boakye's youthful vigour belies her age, a detail she casually brushes off with a smile, accustomed as she is to such compliments. 

But beyond her age-defying appearance and schedule, Boakye is clearly driven by a mission. In her case, that mission is to push for women’s active participation in the African energy sector.

"It's crucial to involve women in energy, their potential remains largely untapped," Faustina stated emphatically.

Boakye, often labelled a 'nuisance' by her critics, embraces the title as a badge of honour, asserting her commitment to fighting for women's access to affordable energy, opportunities, and technologies along the energy value chain.

"I am a nuisance whenever I go, but for a good course. I'll continue to make noise until the powers that be succumb to this issue of gender equality, involvement of women in the energy and climate sectors," she vowed, speaking at COP28, in Dubai.

Her advocacy is rooted in the conviction that women, traditionally seen only as caregivers and excluded from major decision-making roles in energy, have much more to offer. "They're not just caregivers. They're innovators, leaders, engineers," she said.

The 'Nuisance': Breaking New Ground for African Women in the Energy Value Chain

Faustina's journey into advocacy began with a stark realisation during her extensive career as a journalist that more needed to be done to cast the spotlight on women. "Covering conflict zones like Darfur (Sudan), I saw the dire struggles of women. It was heartbreaking but eye-opening," she recalled.

These experiences laid the groundwork for her transition from journalism to activism, having also worked at World Vision. At one point, upon seeing women's involvement in the Arab Spring, she wanted to protest at the embassies of those nations in Accra, Ghana in solidarity with them.

At COP28's gender pavilion, she spoke passionately about the tangible changes she's witnessed through women-led initiatives in the energy sector. "One of our entrepreneurs developed LPG stoves tailored for African pots, transforming cooking in local restaurants. Another is revolutionizing fuel with bamboo briquettes," she explained with pride.

But her efforts go beyond advocating for local entrepreneurship. At international forums, Faustina has become a vocal advocate for direct financial support to women in the energy sector. This is a hot issue at COP28, where an announcement of funding for a Loss and Damage Fund was made on the event's opening day.

"We need to channel climate finance directly to these women, not just through governments or large organizations," she argued. Despite the challenges, including a failed bid for a parliamentary seat due to entrenched gender biases, Faustina remains undeterred.

"I'm not going to stop making noise until the issues of gender equality and involvement of women in the energy and climate sectors are adequately addressed," she declared. Her message, she stated is clear: women must be given fair access to energy resources and decision-making processes, especially in climate change and energy transitions.

One focus of Boakye's advocacy is the funding of micro-enterprises through microloans and the training of female entrepreneurs. Her efforts have led to the creation of workshops and training programs that not only educate but also inspire women to pursue careers in energy.

Her approach to advocacy now includes leveraging her journalism background to highlight issues related to women and energy. 

She believes that by documenting stories of women affected by energy policies, or those making a difference in this field, she brings much-needed attention to the issues and to the women who are driving change. bird story agency

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