This story was produced and published by National Geographic through a reporting partnership with the United Nations Development Programme.
Dungarpur, INDIAMarried at 13 and a mother by 16, Rukmini Katara once ran a small grocery store with her husband in her village near Udaipur in Rajasthan. Like millions of rural Indian women, she expected to follow a familiar path: doing what her husband’s family asked of her, devoting herself to domestic responsibilities at the cost of any personal ambition. But Katara has become the face of an effort to ignite a solar energy revolution in India’s villages.
Katara, 34, is the C.E.O. of Durga Energy, a company that manufactures solar panels and is staffed by about 40 women—including many who never finished high school. Launched with help from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and the Rajasthan state government,