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Engendering energy projects and policies

ENERGIA’s advocacy activities and awareness raising campaigns at the national level resulted in gender mainstreaming. Gender mainstreaming in the energy sector ensured the integration of a gender perspective into the preparation, design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of policies, projects and programs, so that the energy needs of women and men could be equally addressed.

Gender mainstreaming benefited women, who suffered the negative impacts of gender-blind policies, programs and projects, maximized the overall impacts of specific programs and contributed to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

ENERGIA focused on both dimensions: energy projects and programs and energy policies.

Projects and policies generally fail to recognize that there is a gender bias in energy services and, as a consequence, women’s energy needs tend to be marginalized in planning and implementation. ENERGIA believes that this lack of attention to gender issues may in part be due to a lack of knowledge about the significance of the gender dimension in the energy sector and in part due to uncertainties about how to incorporate gender into a sector that has primarily been technology-driven. Since training and gender audits can be used to develop individual and institutional knowledge of procedures and ways of working through which gender issues can be incorporated into regular design and implementation practices, ENERGIA proposed adopting this approach as a way of creating energy projects and policies that are more gender-responsive in terms of content and process” – ENERGIA News, Volume 10, Issue 1, October 2007

Gender mainstreaming in energy projects and programs

Experiences from Phase 3 showed that designers and implementers of large-scale energy projects did not see the value of gender mainstreaming and, even if they did, they did not have the resources or expertise to mainstream gender. During Phase 4, ENERGIA strived to change this perspective and increase the attention to gender issues. We contributed to demonstrate that, given both commitment by stakeholders and the availability of gender-specific resources, the project’s outcomes could be multiplied. To achieve this objective, ENERGIA supported mainstreaming in 34 medium and large scale energy projects in Africa and Asia and used the outcomes of these projects to make the case.

Concretely, ENERGIA supported the development of a gender strategy, the Gender Action Plan (GAP) to facilitate the process of mainstreaming gender. The GAP set out a clear structure on the goals, activities and indicators for the integration of gender.

To facilitate these processes, ENERGIA also developed practical handbooks on mainstreaming gender into energy projects using a step-by-step methodology for each project cycle, including specific gender tools for various sub-sectors (e.g. biogas, improved cookstoves, rural electrification, etc.). These tools, together with ENERGIA’s direct support, provided guidance on the processes and steps needed to incorporate gender concerns into projects, procedures, work ethic and overall structure.

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Gender mainstreaming in energy policies

While supporting policymakers and practitioners in the gender and energy area, ENERGIA collaborated with national partners and policy-makers to undertake gender audits of energy policies. ENERGIA developed this tool during Phase 3 under the “Turning Information into Empowerment: Strengthening Gender and Energy Networking in Africa” (TIE-ENERGIA) project and evolved it over Phase 4 by involving more countries. Gender audits are not a financial audit or an external evaluation. Gender audits are a tool to identify factors that hinder gender mainstreaming in energy policies and programs and to formulate strategies to address these gaps.

Specifically, we undertook gender audits that aimed to inform Ministries of Energy and influenced the content and direction of national energy policies so as to make them gender-responsive. We developed a methodology for gender audits that was used to assist relevant energy ministries and agencies across nine countries to review their policies, resources, programs, statistics, institutional practices and MDG commitments in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana, Senegal, Lesotho, Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The final reports produced from the gender audits were used as official reference materials within the respective countries and provided empirical baselines for monitoring progress in addressing gender issues.

Some successful outcomes of the gender audits included:

  • The establishment of gender desk officers in the Departments of Energy in Kenya, Botswana, Ghana and Senegal.
  • The integration of gender at the implementation level into national rural electrification programs and electricity utilities, including Kenya Power and Lighting Company, Senegalese Agency for Rural Electrification (ASER) program, ‘program to promote rural electrification and a sustainable supply of domestic fuel’ (PERACOD) in Senegal, the Botswana Power and Cooperation, and the Rajiv Gandhi Gram Vidyutikaran Yojan program in India;
  • Closer capacity building and working relationship between the Ministry of Women Affairs in Nigeria and the Energy Commission of Nigeria.

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