Workshop on gender and energy spurs shift to low-carbon sources
Access to energy is a means of women empowerment. Working in this area, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and Gender Energy Network India (GENI) convened a one-day workshop on April 26, 2018 on ‘Women and Energy: Transitions to a Low-carbon Economy in Agriculture and Natural Resource sectors’.
The workshop, held at MSSRF in Chennai, was supported by Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN) and ENERGIA, Netherlands.
The workshop aimed at a) building gender and energy expertise through research and practices and developing a shared understanding of gender-responsive analysis of practice and policy; and b) establishing and strengthening the network of government, corporate, civil society organisations, researchers and practitioners in the field of gender and energy, namely GENI.
As many as 35 participants from diverse energy intervention areas across several States of India participated in the workshop. The participants have been working on low carbon energy technologies that are meant to further development, keeping in mind the gender and social perspectives. Broad themes discussed at the workshop were low carbon energy technologies, gender, access and use of energy in both the production and social reproduction and spheres of rural men and women.
Here are some significant points that emerged during the discussions.
1.Importance of involving energy users in conversations around gender and energy.
Energy access is important, but is only a part of gender empowerment.
3.Women have roles to play throughout the entire energy system and supply chain.
4.Mind the gap between policy and implementation.
5.Consideration for women’s priorities aside from energy.
6.Women are a non-homogenous group: When we talk about gender and energy, one must consider the intersection of gender with caste, religion, ethnicity and other social structures.
7.Access to finance, skills for women: To ensure that access to energy translates to use of that energy and leads to tangible and sustainable benefits for women, access to finance must be provided so that they are able to own the necessary infrastructure and use the services.
- Increasing the value of women’s labour: Availability of free women’s labour at the household restricts the use of energy-based farm machinery in rural areas. The challenge is to increase the value of women’s labour which may trigger the demand from them for energy-based technologies.
- Addressing gendered norms in energy access: Gendered access and use of electricity is still largely shaped by socio cultural norms. It’s important to look at how women’s agency and collective actions can support them to overcome it and create an asset in women’s names.