Merrimack in India - Celebrating Women Solar Engineers

Our faculty-student team members traveling in India during Spring Break 2019 had the chance to meet the Solar Mamas at Barefoot College.

  • Graduates from the Solar Mamas project, an initiative training women to become solar-energy engin...
    Graduates from the Solar Mamas project, an initiative training women to become solar-energy engineers.

The team meets the Solar Mamas

Author Interdisciplinary Institute

Dr. Ellen Fitzpatrick meets with Solar Mamas from Indonesia at their graduation ceremony during...Dr. Ellen Fitzpatrick meets with Solar Mamas from Indonesia at their graduation ceremony during Merrimack's Spring Break 2019 trip.


Although Barefoot College has multiple initiatives focusing on education, health, water and more, the focus of our trip has been on solar electrification, especially the initiative known as the “Solar Mamas.”

Barefoot College launched the Solar Mamas project in 1983, as a transnational initiative, designed to blend women’s empowerment with solar energy. Since then, 1,300 women from 91 countries completed the six-month intensive training to become solar engineers and catalysts for change in their village, upon their return. The project was even featured in a Solar Mamas documentary that premiered on PBS.

On our second day on campus, we had the opportunity to interact with several key people involved in the Solar Mamas project, from solar engineers to curriculum designers to workshop facilitators and the Solar Mamas themselves. We came to understand and appreciate Barefoot founders’ belief that solar energy not only provides electricity and reduces carbon emissions, but can also be a catalyst to create employment, boost income and provide self-reliant solutions for village communities.

We were fortunate to attend the graduation ceremony of the Solar Mamas enrolled in the 21st cohort of the project. The group consists of 60 women from 13 countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Additionally, Barefoot College has trained hundreds of Indian Solar Mamas.

More info on Solar Mamas

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