7.7 Module G: Energy

A detailed case study of a forestry and energy project with gender mainstreaming practices and results is presented in Case Study C from Senegal. A detailed case study of a rural electrification project with gender mainstreaming practices and results can be found in Case Study J from Lao PDR.

7.7.1 Introduction

The linkages between energy and climate change have been clearly established. The production of usable energy implies harvesting (biomass, sun, wind, river waters), extracting (coal, uranium, petroleum, gas), and transforming natural resources. The direct use and transformation of primary energy resources are among the principal sources of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. Energy infrastructure and services and energy users are exposed to significant climate-related risks and vulnerable to climate change manifestations. Significant work has been done on mitigation, particularly for thermal power, much less on adaptation beyond sustainable forestry development and the introduction of clean renewable energy technologies.

The need for adaptation and mitigation projects is all the more important that energy is one of the motors of sustainable economic and social development, and one of the most effective tools to combat poverty. Availability of efficient, reliable, and affordable energy infrastructure and services is indispensable both to meet basic human needs (cooking, lighting, power, transport fuels) and to grow household incomes and economies (power and fuels). Equitable access by women and men to such energy services is therefore on the critical path for sustainable economic and social development. Building the resilience to climate change of energy systems and energy users is the challenge to be addressed through CCA projects. As change agents and nurturers of future generations, women can also power CCA.

7.7.2 Gender issues for energy

Energy affects people throughout their lives, with significant disparities between women and men
. Lack of energy to sterilize water or obstetrical instruments, lack of fuel to transport women to clinics, and lack of lighting for safe deliveries are the main causes of maternal deaths at childbirth in developing countries. Women in developing countries

are already facing many challenges, especially those who are living in poverty and/or depend on small-scale agriculture and collection of fuel from their local environment to meet their daily needs. As wood-fuel resources diminish as a result of climate change, the lives of women, girls, and young boys are likely to become more difficult, with additional demands on their time to collect and transport wood over longer distances from the homestead.[31]

Examples of gender and energy issues are given below;chief barriers to gender equity are shown in Box 27.

Dependence on traditional biomass fuels for basic cooking needs negatively impacts people’s lives, in particular that of women and children.
About 2.4 billion people on the planet still rely on wood, charcoal, and animal waste as cooking fuels—most of them in Asia and Africa. Women, girls, and young boys bear most of the burden of this dependency. Collection and preparation of wood and animal waste as well as charcoal production and trade are activities done by both women and men, depending on the regions. However, women spend a disproportionate amount of time on tasks related to these activities.

  • Women spend 2–20 hours per week on these chores in Asia, several times more than men.[32]Beyond time, women and girls are more vulnerable to assault and harassment.
  • When households switch to modern fuels (e.g., liquid propane gas), gender responsibilities change: men become responsible for fuel procurement.[33]
  • Women, girls, and young children are the most exposed to indoor air pollution (IAP) from using traditional stoves. It is estimated that 2.0 million women die prematurely each year from respiratory illnesses. In India, IAP is ranked third on the burden of disease. Women exposed to heavy indoor smoke are three times as likely to suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (e.g., chronic bronchitis) than women who use cleaner fuels.[34]

Lack of energy-based technologies for domestic work limits women’s ability to engage in other productive and leisure activities
. Poor households lack basic technologies, such as modern lighting, stoves, grinders, and pumps that could ease their daily household burdens. They also lack any modern equipment that could provide opportunities for higher productivity and sustainable livelihoods. Women and girls are more affected than men as they bear the greatest share of domestic chores.

  • Time-poverty
    for lack of energy resources is one of the main constraints to women’s development. Women’s workday exceeds men’s by 4–8 hours in many regions;they have limited time to invest in education, knowledge acquisition, leisure, and personal development. They have limited time to access paid employment, and as a result stay longer in poverty—women’s share of the world’s GDP is only 11%—which itself impacts the welfare of future generations.[35]
  • The poorest households spend about one-third of their cash income on poor quality energy services (candles, kerosene, dry batteries).[36]

Traditional ownership rights favor men over women, and leave women with limited decision-making power over energy endowments and assets
. Because of traditional land rights that favor men over women, women have limited decision-making power on land and energy resource uses: forestry resources, plantation of biomass fuels into the cropping system, and control of community hydro-resources. Women’s traditional knowledge of these resources (forest regeneration, soil fertility, water discharge) is rarely recognized as an asset to the community.

  • As men generate or have more control over cash income, they usually also control most of the household decisions to invest family income in new energy sources—for example, dry batteries, solar home systems (SHS), and home appliances. For female-headed households, lack of collateral and cash income impedes ability to obtain credit to access modern energy (services and appliances).
  • When new energy technologies become available, in particular for rural electrification, men make the decisions and women’s priority energy needs are rarely systematically taken into account. When consulted, rural women prioritize improved cooking fuels and/or stoves over lighting and power, and electrifying community facilities such as health clinics and schools over individual connections.

Women’s role as energy suppliers and consumers of energy services in businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises is rarely given proper recognition.
Both men and women are household and business customers to energy providers. Energy efficiency technologies are relevant in both situations;women’s financial constraints may limit their adoption, relative to men. Energy planners more often think of women as domestic energy users than commercial users. As a result, women are given less voice in energy planning and design.

Box 27. Barriers to gender equality in energy

  • Cultural and social norms put the burden on women to procure traditional cooking fuels.
  • Women have limited land rights.
  • Women have lesser access to technology, training, and credit to energy-based economic activities.
  • Cultural norms may also exclude women from political and decision-making processes to have their
    voices heard on the priorities and choices of energy solutions.
  • Women’s demand for efficient cooking energy and appliances and time-saving devices is rarely
    recognized as a priority energy issue in national energy plans.
  • There is lack of institutional capacity in energy to address gender disparities.
  • Gender-disaggregated data are lacking on household energy consumption patterns and geographical
    distribution of households for network planning purposes.

7.7.3 Gender-energy issues in the context of climate change

Climate change impacts energy resources, infrastructure and services, and energy users. These impacts are generated by both climate variability and the incidence and intensity of extreme events such as typhoons and cyclones, high winds, droughts, and flooding.

Women are likely to be more affected than men by changes in the availability of energy resources due to climate change.
Climate change, in particular droughts and floods, adds stress on biomass resources and may cause declines in the
productivity of natural or plantation ecosystems used for fuelwood or to source raw materials for charcoal production. Women are likely to bear the brunt of this impact, having to walk longer distances and to less accessible areas to obtain the fuelwood needed for the basic household cooking needs. Climate change is also causing increasing variations in hydrological cycles, water availability, and river flow conditions, consequently affecting hydropower. In areas where pico-hydro, micro-, and small hydro systems have been developed for dual purposes (irrigation and power), women’s sources of livelihood from irrigated crop cultivation become more vulnerable. Adaptation measures are therefore needed to protect forestry ecosystems and catchment areas, and manage biomass and water resources more efficiently in order to protect livelihoods and rural incomes, for women in particular.

Climate change increases the vulnerability of energy infrastructure and the operational efficiency of energy systems and may affect differently the male and female customers.
The frequent location of thermal plants near coastal areas or water transport (i.e., close to fuel supplies) makes them particularly vulnerable to rising sea-levels, increased soil instability, water temperature rise, and salinity. In mountainous areas, high levels of precipitations can cause landslides and destroy hydropower plants. Extreme weather conditions (winds, typhoons) are likely to damage the power infrastructure, regardless of the source of energy, and more specifically the power transmission and distribution systems. Such damage in turn disrupts power supplies and the operational efficiency of the power systems. Other elements of energy systems (fossil fuel production, transport, and distribution) may be equally affected by climate events. High temperatures impact not only the infrastructure but cause wide variations in demand, in turn causing stress on energy systems.

  • The livelihoods of both women and men are thus likely to be affected, especially for those engaged in economic activities that rely on network electricity.
  • Disruptions and increased operational costs are likely to have a greater negative impact on small and medium enterprises and individual businesses (which constitute a greater proportion of women’s businesses) than on large businesses where men are predominantly employed.

Careful analysis by gender of these expected impacts is needed to foster gender-equitable climate change related energy policies.

Climate change affects energy security for women and men.
Regardless of the source of energy, climate change increases energy insecurity at all levels—national, community, and household. All impacts on resources, infrastructure, and services have a high cost that may be difficult to absorb, in particular by the poorest (hence by women).

  • After a major breakdown in energy supplies, women commonly spend a lesser proportion of family income on cooking fuels and so cook less. As a result, they tend to reduce their own food intake in order to protect their families. This compromises their nutrition levels, their health, and their resilience to climate change.
  • Other consequences of energy system disruptions include increased transport costs: women return to traveling by foot when they can no longer afford motorized transport. They may also return to higher levels of poverty.

7.7.4 Gender entry points for CCA energy projects

CCA measures are required to increase the resilience of energy systems. All stakeholders—national and local governments, households, and individuals—need to commit to adaptation, from planning to consumption of energy services. The selection of adaptation measures is most challenging for energy given the very wide range of energy resources and uses, and the wide range of technological options. Tools and activities are suggested below.

Undertaking gender-sensitive vulnerability assessments of energy resources and use

  • A participatory vulnerability assessment
    of energy resources and use in a given community is a first entry point (see Box 28). The objective is to establish the baseline data on the availability of energy resources to the community (primary or end-use);the costs of energy;the distribution of access to households, businesses, and community facilities;and the procurement and use of energy by women and men. Vulnerability cannot be measured or observed directly. It has to be deducted from the analysis of various variables for estimating physical exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.[37]Observed changes in climate patterns need to be recorded to inform the assessment, as well as the particular exposure of infrastructure (of whatever scale) to climate events and the community’s response capacity. For example, villages where SHS are common and women and men are capable of dismounting them to protect them from rising winds are more resilient to an extreme event than villages where only men can dismount the systems. The various components of the energy system in a particular location can be ranked by vulnerability criteria.
  • Combined
    rapid appraisal methodologies
    may be adequate to undertake a vulnerability assessment, provided that
    GIS information
    and other documentation on the area and on the energy system is already available.
  • For integrated systems (e.g., power),
    national vulnerability assessments
    may also be needed to complement and support local-level findings and adaptation options.

Box 28. Vulnerability assessment of Albania’s power sector to climate change

A study undertaken with support from the World Bank documented that, unless prompt action is taken, climate change will worsen Albania’s energy security over the mid to long term. This study estimates that a reduction in runoff of 20 percent by 2050 driven by climate change could lead to 15 percent less electricity generation from Albania’s large hydropower plants and 20 percent less from small hydropower plants. At the same time, increases in extreme precipitation events could increase costs for maintaining dam security. Rising sea levels and increased rates of coastal erosion will threaten energy assets in the coastal region. Rising air temperatures are also estimated to reduce the efficiency of TPPs by about 1 percent by 2050. If river-water-cooled TPPs were developed in future, these would be affected by changes in river flows and higher river temperatures, further reducing their efficiency.

World Bank. 2009a. Climate vulnerability assessments: An Assessment of climate change vulnerability, risk, and adaptation in Albania’s power sector. World Bank, Washington, DC. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2009/12/11935944/climate-vulnerability-assessments-assessment-climate-change-vulnerability-risk-adaptation-albanias-power-sector

Planning and design of gender-sensitive integrated CCA energy projects.
Various options are available to adapt energy solutions to climate change.
with women and men have demonstrated to be effective in selecting options and mobilizing the communities on priorities.

  • Measures to protect fuelwood ecosystems (Box 29;Case Study C on Senegal), adopting energy efficiency measures, and sustainable renewable energy technologies are likely to be among women’s priorities in the rural areas, as a means to enhance household energy security and reduce energy expenditures.
  • Communities (including large urban centers) are likely to be more concerned with strengthening of infrastructure against storms or wind, protection of infrastructure against flooding with dykes or berms, or construction of new infrastructure in areas unlikely to be affected by future flooding, salinity, or storm events.
  • Where employment opportunities are limited, informing women and men during consultations of potential employment in such adaptation activities may be effective in building consensus.

    Box 29. CCA options in Madagascar

    Given the heavy reliance on wood and charcoal for cooking, improved sustainability of charcoal production (enforcement of regulations against illegal charcoal production activities, improving yields from existing legal charcoal activities using plantation materials, and development of new plantations for charcoal production on degraded lands) is seen as a priority to reduce the pressure on natural resources and deforestation that has been exacerbated by both climate change and population growth. Diversification of household and community energy generation—for example, with solar energy and small-scale hydropower—is seen also as an option to reduce pressure on natural systems and to improve the quality of life. At the national level, climate proofing of existing and future hydropower and thermal infrastructure through the implementation of structural and/or nonstructural measures is considered a priority by the government.

    World Wild Fund for Nature/Madagascar. n.d. Adaptation in the energy sector.

Capacity building and training in gender analysis
of project implementation institutions and the hiring of gender specialists as needed can be usefully done during project preparation. This will accelerate the readiness of these institutions once the project is approved. Furthermore, if adaptation solutions entail displacement and relocation of families (retrofits or new infrastructure), it is essential that resettlement plans be gender equitable, and therefore, that the institutions have the capacity to provide gender equality oversight.

Ensuring gender equality for accessing adaptation technologies during implementation.
By definition, adaptation energy projects include technology transfers.

  • Training both women and men to new technologies is key to building the resilience of individual households and communities to climate events. Likewise, all information on climate change resilience and on emergency management must be equally communicated to women and men;this may imply hiring
    female communicators (e.g., radio announcers).
  • Technology transfer, especially for decentralized energy systems and energy efficiency, often requires credit and other finance mechanisms, as well as providing technical assistance for the development of productive activities that generate income (to pay for the service or the asset). Responsiveness to women’s specific needs is essential.
  • As women’s poverty and literacy levels are inferior to men’s, financing mechanisms and eligibility criteria may need to be adjusted so that women are not excluded.
  • Giving women equal opportunity to become energy entrepreneurs effectively reduces the gender gap on women’s income.[38]
    Special programs for women to acquire business skills may be called for.
  • Setting gender balance on energy management committees, at all levels (national, subnational, local) is another way of making sure that women’s and men’s needs are well taken into account during project implementation. In Bangladesh (see Box 30), the rural electrification cooperatives with higher female representation on the boards have performed better, with very low default rates on utility bills. This is largely because they can explain to female and male users how to budget their expenses in a way that allows for utility bills to be covered.[39]
    Box 31 summarizes a project that demonstrated the benefits of SHS in Lao PDR.

Box 30. Benefit from technology training of both women and men in Bangladesh

As part of an Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP)-financed project, women of the southern island of Char Montaz assemble and install SHS. During the November 2007 cyclone, whoever was at home when the warnings came, women and men promptly took down the SHS. No system was reported lost. They were reset immediately after the passage of the cyclone, phones were recharged, and information transmitted to the emergency services in Dhaka on the location of the most needed help.

Lallement, D. 2008a. Evaluation of women’s energy cooperative in Char Montaz. In ESMAP. 2013. Integrating gender considerations into energy operations. Knowledge Series 014/13. ESMAP, Washington, DC. http://www.esmap.org/node/2743 http://www.esmap.org/node/2743

Box 31. Benefits from adaptation technologies: SHS in Lao PDR

In Pakoup, 46 of the 52 houses supplied with SHS were using electric lights in the evenings to increase production of woven scarves and skirts. The looms had been moved into the main rooms, and lit by one solar lamp. The women and teenagers were proud that they could contribute US $5 per month to family incomes, and were happy to do this after nightfall with the family gathered around. This compensated for declining income from fisheries—it certainly more than covered the hire-purchase payments made on the solar systems. Villagers routinely used solar systems to charge portable six-volt batteries to power flashlights; these were used to fish and catch frogs at night. With electric lighting available to mend nets in the evening, fishermen could increase their fishing rotations on the lake, and increase both their food security and incomes.

World Bank. 2006a. People’s Democratic Republic of Lao–Rural electrification (Phase 1-APL) project. World Bank, Washington, DC. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2006/03/6722513/peoples-democratic-republic-lao-rural-electrification-phase-1–apl-project

7.7.5 Monitoring gender impacts

Examples of result areas for which specific gender-sensitive monitoring indicators can be established include:

  • Improved sustainable access to biomass energy resources. One indicator would be the trend in time spent and distance covered to collect fuelwood.
  • Increased access to modern energy. Indicators would be the rates of connections or off-grid systems between female and male-headed households.
  • Increased availability of energy efficient appliances and equipment. The indicators should separate appliances primarily used by women (rice cookers, sewing machines), those used by men (soldering guns), or used by both (water pumps).
  • Participation of women and men in planning and design of energy adaptation options. The indicators would record participation in consultations, working groups, and planning/design committees.
  • Participation of women and men in energy CCA activities. Indicators would relate to employment, energy enterprise creation, and access to credit and other financial mechanisms.
  • Strengthening of institutional capacity. Indicators would relate to the staff capacity to provide oversight on gender equity for resettlement plans, participation of women and men in training and information, and to design and analyze gender-sensitive surveys.

Examples of impact areas on improving the sustainability of livelihoods and the improvement in the quality of life thanks to adaptation actions:

  • Improved energy security, for both women and men, in terms of sustained availability and affordability of energy resources and services
  • Improved safety after dark
  • Reduction of energy resource/asset losses and service interruptions as a result of climate change events
  • Women’s empowerment, through increased participation of in governance, decision-making, and management structures in national and local governments, professional organizations, and at community level.

Other intervention areas and examples of illustrative indicators which could be used in CCA energy projects are shown in Table 12.

TABLE 12. Illustrative gender indicators for energy CCA projects
Intervention Area Illustrative Indicators
Consultation inclusiveness Number and percentage of men and women, by social group, consulted about project plans and frequency
Improving gender balance of staff, partners, or clients/client groups Percentage of men and women for target group
Active participation Number and percentage of men and women, actively participating in consultations, workshops, and committee meetings
Leadership Number and percentage of women serving in leadership positions in energy producer, marketing, and planning groups and enterprises
Increased wood fuel availability Wood yield changes on men’s and women’s and community plots
Technology/practice adoption Uptake of new energy technologies (renewable energy, biogas, SHS, energy efficiency, improved stoves) by male and female headed households
Nontraditional practices or roles adopted Number and percentage of women and men employed in energy infrastructure work (dams, hydro or power plants, transmission and distribution systems, etc.) and in energy businesses:

  • No. of women and men employed, skilled and unskilled
  • Wage parity between women and men
  • No. of childcare services on construction sites
  • No. of women and youth employed in female-owned energy businesses
Women’s status changes by household or community Incorporation of women’s energy priorities into household, community or national plans
Time availability Changes in weekly fuelwood collection time, by sex and age groupChanges in free time, per week, for women and menChanges in income earned by sex over time

Changes in time spent procuring modern fuels by sex

Service provided Percentage of men and women formal energy clients
Inclusive service provided
  • Percentage of female-headed households, socially marginalized groups, connected to power grids or served with off-grid solutions, including through adapted tariff structures
  • No. of women and men trained in energy-based productive uses and energy business development
  • Gender-sensitive resettlement (caused by infrastructure retrofitting or new construction):

—No. of female- and male-headed households resettled

—No. of joint (husband and wife) land/housing titles granted

—No. of titles to female-headed households

—Amount of compensation payments directly to women’s (bank) accounts

Client satisfaction Satisfaction level changes by sex, with the quality and reliability of energy services, both in households and community facilitiesNo. of women and men with new skills in energy technology use, installation, operation and maintenance
Relative budget allocation for gender mainstreaming activities Percentage of total budget spent on gender-focused and targeted women’s empowerment, income support and information activities
Improved welfare and incomes
  • Women’s and men’s annual income from employment in energy projects and companies
  • Women’s and men’s annual income from energy-based and energy-consuming economic activities
  • Percentage of female and male literacy rates
  • No. and business results of new or expanded women’s and men’s energy businesses and energy-based productive activities
  • Women’s and men’s after-sunset activities
  • Time spent on school work by boys and girls
  • Health improvements from:

(1) cleaner energy and more efficient appliances. Indicator: sex-disaggregated statistics on morbidity and mortality related to IAP and outdoor air pollution

(2) safe child deliveries due to lighting or availability of clean water. Indicator: statistics on women and children mortality at birth

(3) street lighting. Indicator: statistics on aggressions and rapes at bus stops

Policy change Inclusion, protection and/or improvement of women’s ownership rights to natural resource and other energy assets in new or reformed laws or regulationProvision for adapting tariff structures and payment methods adapted to the needs of the lowest income groupsShare of energy budget allocated to gender-sensitive activities

Box 32 lists additional literature sources on gender, energy, and climate change adaptation.

Box 32. Further readings on gender, energy, and climate