I recently had the pleasure to travel to Amman, Jordan, to attend the U.S.-Jordan Business Forum. My trip happened to fall over International Women's Day, which gave me added incentive to engage on women's issues while in country. Across the Jordanian energy sector, I came across a number of extraordinary women, including Barbara Broomell, the executive Director of the Arab Women's Leadership Institute (AWLI), who are working to alleviate the pressures of a dire electricity crisis and to build a more sustainable energy future for all Jordanians and the region. I was particularly encouraged by the work of Jordan's EDAMA Association, which seeks to create private sector partnerships to develop a viable clean energy sector in Jordan.
In the Department of State's new Energy Resources Bureau, created thanks to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's vision and leadership, we constantly strive to incorporate women's issues into our various policy platforms. This includes expanding access to electricity to the 1.3 billion people who do not have it through the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL). This program will have a dramatic impact on the lives of women in the developing world -- improving health, enhancing personal security, facilitating education, and opening new economic opportunities. Given that women in developing countries often spend hours every day collecting biomass for cooking fuel, access to electricity or a clean cooking stove provides women more time for income-generation and avoids harmful human health impacts from inhaling fumes.
Modern energy services can also transform women's livelihoods and advance economic prosperity. The U.S. Peace Corps, in partnership with the Department of State, supported projects in Latin America under President Obama's Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas to promote cookstoves and small-scale renewable energy. In Nicaragua, thanks to an improved oven, a female entrepreneur and breadmaker was able bake from her home and on a daily basis, saving time, increasing her yields, and earn more money.
As our new Bureau continues to expand and confront new challenges, I will continue to strongly engage on issues that intersect women and energy. The challenges before us are great, but I am confident that through innovative approaches and broad engagement, that we can continue to make progress.