At an afternoon event on Capitol Hill yesterday called "Gender Equality and Energy Access," which drew public and private sector panelists, the White House was represented by an outspoken eco-feminist. The Weekly Standard has the story:
First of all, you're forgiven for wondering at the concept of gender-equal energy use: Don't men and women use energy more or less equally already? Which gender gets the environmental blame for kitchen appliances and washing machines in 2016, anyway?
As it turns out, the nexus of energy and feminist activism lies in third-world humanitarian action. Speakers from the Sierra Club, a UN advocacy group, and another group called Solar Sisters pledged commitment to expanding equal access to solar-powered and otherwise renewable energy for men and women in developing nations.
When President Obama started the program Power Africa in January, the rough idea was to bring simple, sustainable solutions to help Africans help themselves—to serve the needs of these communities, productively, rather than any domestic agenda of our own, wastefully.
And then White House injected its gender identity politics agenda. The number-one goal of the latest Power Africa initiative, according to its spokeswoman: "Increase women's participation in energy sector policy development and planning processes."
Changing the face of the energy sector, she said, "might seem symbolic at some level but we think it's very powerful." Providing a simple power source to keep the lights on so that a young woman in Northern Kenya, a Power Africa success story, can continue weaving after dark, sell the baskets she makes and build a business to support her family—it's a good idea. Did we really have to make it about us?
This may make the Solar Sisters and their ilk happy, but the poor in African nations need capitalist development that creates opportunity much more than they need solar panels.
And I wonder if the Solar Sisters realize that they are merely adopting the latest version of familiar imperialistic formula known as "the white man's burden" (defined by an internet dictionary as "the task that white colonizers believed they had to impose their civilization on the black inhabitants of their colonies").