Briefing Note: Gender and Energy

Women in many developing countries play a pivotal role in energy production, distribution and utilization. Women also have different energy needs to men. Therefore, targeting this group in energy-related development initiatives is crucial. A limited, but growing body of qualitative evidence suggests that access to more modern energy alternatives can relieve women of the most demanding and unhealthy aspects of their daily lives and expand their range of development options, with positive spillover effects on families and communities. However, to realize long-term and transformative improvements for women, energy programmes must be carried about in conjunction with wider public policy initiatives that tackle harmful gendered norms and legal inequities. This briefing note summarises the findings from the Energy and Economic Growth (EEG) programme State of Knowledge (SoK) paper on ‘Gender Implications of Energy Use and Energy Access’, and relates them to findings from DFID-funded programmes. The central tenet of this note is that targeting women’s access to energy has a range of positive benefits, although this is mediated by public policies, legal rules and gendered norms. However, we recognise the paucity of quantitative evidence on the empowering benefits of electrification and strongly urge further research to be conducted on the gender and energy nexus.

Grid Access
Harold Wilhite, Felicity Le Quesne, Chris Hearle