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“As we know, a pregnant woman can go into labor at any time,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. “Her survival should not depend on daylight. That is why new initiatives like the solar suitcase are so valuable.”

Emphasizing the “especially heavy toll” energy poverty takes on women, the Secretary-General spoke of the We Care Solar Suitcase and of Dr. Jacques Sebisaho, who received a Solar Suitcase in December 2011 for his clinic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Women face especially grave risks when they have to rely on a clinic that has no electricity,” Mr. Ban said at the June 21 side event on “Energy, Gender and Economic Growth.” “More than a quarter of a million health facilities in our world are dark at night.”

He added, “One Congolese doctor told us that in his village, the first night he received the solar suitcase he was able to save two women who were giving birth.”

The Secretary-General concluded, “We cannot have the future we want without full equality for women. Today, I call on everyone to help put the ‘power’ in our drive to empower women. Then they can help light our world.”