Energy plays an essential role in both women's and men's lives. More than 1.1 billion people globally lack access to electricity, and 2.9 billion lack access to clean cooking fuels. Prevailing gender roles result in women using energy differently. Consequently, women often bear the brunt of energy poverty. Universal access to reliable energy is key to improving the health and well-being of people around the world. It strengthens livelihoods and bolsters local economies. Energy is especially critical to improving health, safety, productivity, education, and income-generation opportunities for women and girls, who are disproportionately impacted by lack of access.
Energy access as a solution
1. Access combats ‘time poverty,’ a critical driver of gender inequality. When women and girls have access to the benefits that reliable and affordable electricity provide, unpaid work becomes less laborious and time intensive, allowing for the pursuit of education, income-generation, civic involvement, or leisure opportunities. 2.Access to energy improves the safety of women and girls. When women and girls no longer need to use unlit latrines or walk for hours to collect firewood, their exposure to risks of physical and sexual attacks decreases. 3.Cleaner, more efficient fuels and technologies reduce the health impacts of household energy use. Household air pollution kills over four million people every year. Because women and girls are primarily responsible for cooking, improved access to clean, efficient fuel and technologies reduces their exposure to harmful smoke from open fires. 4.Development outcomes are strengthened when the unique knowledge and capacities of women are included. When women have equal access to energy, significant productivity gains are unlocked, strengthening social and economic outcomes. Energy policies, regulations, financing, and institutions all provide opportunities to unlock this untapped productivity by improving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Direct Impacts of energy on Gender
• Economic Development
Including women in energy conversation
Providing energy access only is however not enough. It is crucial that women are consulted in the planning process, to provide a service that can make a difference in their lives. Taking a gender-blind approach to providing energy access could deprive half of the population of its benefits. Taking a bottom-up gendered approach to energy access is crucial. Both because there is huge potential for women to benefit from energy access and because without including them in the conversation these benefits cannot be realised.