Fueling equality: How clean cooking drives women’s empowerment in Tanzania

TANZANIA: LAST week, at the Global Clean Energy Summit, President Samia Suluhu Hassan joined world leaders and policymakers in mobilising pledges of $2.2 billion to drive transformative change in clean cooking access.

This landmark forum follows Tanzania’s launch of the national clean cooking strategy earlier this year, which commits to providing 80 per cent of the population with clean cooking solutions by 2034.

The Clean Energy Summit’s prioritisation of transitioning Africa and Tanzania towards more efficient cooking solutions underscores the vital importance of clean cooking in promoting health, gender equality, and economic development.

Solutions that bring cleaner, safer, and more efficient energy sources— like biogas, electricity, and natural gas—closer to the communities that need them are essential. Global estimates indicate 2.6 billion people still rely on biomass, coal, or kerosene for cooking.

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Not only inefficient, these cooking methods also lead to serious health conditions, including respiratory infections and cardiovascular diseases.

According to World Health Organization estimates, household air pollution from these cooking practices causes approximately 3.8 million premature deaths each year.

Most of the people affected are women and children. Clean cooking solutions are also critical to environmental sustainability.

Traditional cooking methods contribute to deforestation and environmental degradation, affecting the livelihoods of rural communities.

By adopting cleaner cooking technologies, we can reduce carbon emissions and promote the sustainable use of natural resources, mitigating climate change and its disproportionate impacts on women. Beyond the health and climate-related risks, traditional cooking methods also perpetuate the cycle of poverty and gender inequality.

According to the Tanzania Household Budget Survey (2017-18), women in the country spend four hours a day on unpaid care and household chores, compared to just one hour for men.

This includes tasks such as cooking, childcare, and other household chores. Additionally, women and girls spend approximately three to four hours daily on fuel collection and inefficient cooking methods, amounting to 1,500 hours a year.

This limits their time for education, incomegenerating activities and community participation. The adoption of clean cooking solutions can dramatically reduce the time women spend on cooking and fuel collection.


This time-saving is crucial for empowering women and enhancing their economic productivity. When women have more time, they can pursue education, engage in paid work, and participate in community decisionmaking processes, thereby challenging traditional gender roles and contributing to economic development.

Since 2022, UN Women has been actively advocating for policies and programs that promote access to clean cooking solutions as a critical component of women’s economic empowerment.

With generous support from the governments of Canada and Finland, we have contributed to the implementation of the Government of Tanzania’s Generation Equality Forum commitments to advance women’s economic justice and rights, with specific interventions to recognize, reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care and domestic work, including through the provision of clean cooking stoves.

In 2023, in partnership with stakeholders such as Oryx Gas and the Tanzania Gender and Sustainable Energy Network, we provided over 540 electric pressure cookers and gas-powered stoves to rural households in the Singida Region at a subsidized cost. Beneficiaries reported reduced cooking times by 1-3 hours daily, with men increasingly taking on cooking responsibilities.

These initiatives complement many other ongoing programs led by the government and other actors in the country to increase access to clean cooking energy and tools.

Stepped up financing to broaden access to clean cooking in the region is imperative to ensure that these efforts lead to a full transition to clean cooking alternatives.

With an estimated $4 billion USD required for the African continent for this transition to happen, this financing is more important than ever. Enhanced collaboration among governments, development partners, private sector actors, and civil society organizations is essential to ensure that clean cooking technologies are affordable, accessible, and sustainably used within communities.

Ensuring smart partnerships is also key, combining expertise, resources, and innovative solutions to effectively scale up clean cooking initiatives.

UN Women remains committed to supporting the Government in implementing the National Clean Cooking Energy Strategy, enhancing women’s participation in clean cooking supply chains, and advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

We invite more stakeholders across the country to join us in ensuring that every woman and girl has access to clean cooking solutions, creating a more equitable and sustainable world for all.

  • The writer is the UN Women Representative and interim in Tanzania. UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, and works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for women and girls, standing behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life.

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