Blog Post: Refrigerators and women’s empowerment: The “peaceful revolution” of rural electrification

Grade Range: 8-12
Resource Type(s): Reference Materials
Date Posted: 12/31/2021

"Although women's empowerment can have a revolutionary effect on society, it doesn't always look like a revolution. Today, organizations like UN Women work to empower women in rural areas through economic programs that help them “claim their rights to land, leadership, opportunities, and choices” and “participate in shaping laws, policies, and programmes.” For rural women in the mid-1900s United States, one force for change was an organization that few today may think of as a vehicle for empowerment: the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). Clara O. Nale, who worked in home electrification during this period, remarked that rural electrification “has really started a peaceful revolution—particularly in the farm kitchen.” While Nale made this comment in reference to electricity’s transformation of the practice of homemaking, her words also describe how electrification efforts such as the REA expanded women’s autonomy and opportunities."

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