This study, drawn from research conducted in China and other parts of rural Asia, links women’s and men’s labour force participation and status to the adoption of new fuels and appliances in a number of countries. Low opportunity cost of women’s labour limits the adoption of improved stoves and women’s entry into income-earning activities would promote a fuel transition. While the severely negative health impacts of biomass fuels make public subsidy of alternatives desirable, this will not necessarily result in fuel switching by households so long as the value of women’s labour remains low. This is shown in fieldwork from Yunnan, China and a number of other Asian countries. The critical area of intervention is likely to be in providing commercial fuels for women’s income-earning activities.