Cape Town, South Africa
Imagine an Africa with women leading it into the future. They would not just be left to pick up the pieces after war. They would be integral to averting conflict in the first place.
For most of my life I have had the privilege to live and work in half of Africa’s 54 countries. Although I was born in America, my spirit belongs to this majestic, powerful continent.
The Chinese have a wonderful proverb women hold up half the sky. In Africa she is also its beating heart. Mama Africa – her comforts few and her burdens many – she is the economic backbone of her community, the harvester of crops, the healer of wounds, the hub around which the spokes of life turn. She is a catalyst, an agent of change; always on the move, always getting something done. Africa’s future balances on her shoulders.
Imagine an Africa with women leading it into the future.
Women would not just be left to pick up the pieces after war. They would be integral to negotiations to averting conflict in the first place. She will sit as an equal around a board table, a community table and the kitchen table. She will cast her vote in parliament, mobilize communities, enshrine human rights in her policies, tolerate zero corruption and sign her own name at the bank as she seeks to grow her business. Her entrepreneurial skills will be unleashed to creatively tackle problems previously thought to be insurmountable.
My dream is to see African women emancipated from energy poverty. No longer will women have to walk along dusty paths with jugs of water or stacks of firewood on their heads, to cook with stoves that harm their lungs, or to burn kerosene lights that damage their eyes. No longer will she worry that her children will drink kerosene believing it to be clean water or feel the anxiety that comes from a candle tipping over setting her house alight. She will be at the forefront of the use and adoption of renewable energies, not just as consumers, but also as owners and investors.
Women will be the vanguard of a new revolution, a green and hopeful one. Serving as stewards of the precious environment, women will manage Africa’s vast natural resources sustainably, responsibly and transparently, ensuring that wealth will be shared more equitably. Under her guardianship, Africa will feed itself, replenish its forests and protect its wildlife. Her collective voice will lead the battle of climate justice and it will be heard.
She lifts herself from drudgery and poverty through equal access to education, finance and quality health care. She is able to marry when and if she wants and to safely birth the children she wishes to bear. She is treasured by her family.
No vision stands alone. Women will join hands with their sisters across the continent and assist those who want to participate in their own economic and social freedom.
This is my vision, my dream. I am excited and energized to work, in the time remaining to me, with my remarkable sisters across Africa to help make it theirs, too. African women must have their potential set free for the benefit of us all.
Kristine Pearson Bio:
American born Kristine Pearson immigrated to South Africa in 1989 and has travelled to more than 90 countries, including 25 in Africa. She is the founding CEO of Lifeline Energy (formerly Freeplay Foundation), a social enterprise established in 1998 that provides portable, clean energy options to vulnerable children, women and refugees in Africa. Kristine conceived and developed the first radio for development – the award-winning Lifeline radio. Recently she innovated the first media player for development, the Lifeplayer MP3 and the Prime radio, both for distance education. She continues to research the use of fossils fuels by women in sub-Saharan Africa to better address energy poverty through technology. Previously, Kristine held an executive-level position with South Africa banking group Nedcor Ltd.
Kristine was named by TIME magazine as a 2007 Hero of the Environment; is a fellow of the Schwab Foundation of the World Economic Forum; serves on the New Energy Architecture Council of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils; serves on the Women’s Leadership Board of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the UN’s Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the Energy Practitioner Network; is a lifetime fellow of the World Technology Network and is the 2005 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award honouree. A graduate of the University of California, Kristine attended Executive Education at Harvard Business School and the Global Social Benefit Incubator at Santa Clara University.