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Strengthening our evidence base

The universally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 by heads of state and government at a special UN summit, recognized the centrality of energy to tackle persistent global challenges and keep up the momentum of incorporating gender in the energy sector. Also known as the Global Goals, the SDGs were a call “to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity”. At the time, the continuing lack of sex-disaggregated data enhanced bias in energy policies, programs and projects and limited the advancement of the Global Goals.

With 15 years left to achieve universal energy access and ensure gender equality, there was no time to waste. A complete understanding of women and men’s energy needs was critical to identifying actions and policy alternatives that could contribute to these goals. In this context, ENERGIA started a research program prompted by the need to conduct an in-depth analysis of challenges women face in the energy sector and to analyze best practices and gender norms that enhance or limit women’s participation in the energy sector respectively.

Establishing a research program

During the scope period, ENERGIA focused on the lack of evidence on the interlinkages between energy and gender and how actions on these two aspects can mutually benefit the advancement of energy access and promote women’s roles in the energy sector. We established a research program focused on six thematic areas: electrification, productive uses of energy, energy sector reform, the role of the private sector in scaling up energy access, the political economy of energy sector policies and women’s energy entrepreneurship. Our goal was to translate this evidence into recommendations for energy policy and practice.

The resulting key messages and associated policy implications, synthesized in the report “Gender in the transition to energy for all: From evidence to inclusive policies”, were used to inform policy and practice on the importance of promoting women’s access to sustainable, affordable and clean energy, while showcasing the need and benefits of adopting short- and long-term strategies to address gender bias in energy programs and projects.

Key findings from synthesis report

During the five-year research program on gender and energy, ENERGIA collaborated with 29 partners and nine research teams which carried out research in 12 countries. The Gender and Energy Research program, supported by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), as part of its Sustainable Energy Access and Gender program, generated and analysed empirical evidence on the impacts of applying a gender-sensitive approach and implementing gender-responsive policies. The research delivered six findings (see below), which led to six key policy implications.

  • Universal energy access targets are unlikely to be met unless energy policies are aligned to women’s as well as men’s energy needs, their assets, skills, limitations and capabilities, and existing gender norms;
  • Involvement of women in energy system supply chains is good for women and their families, and it is good for business;
  • Modern energy services for women’s productive uses contribute to women’s empowerment;
  • End-use appliances that deliver modern energy services to reduce drudgery and save time can transform gender roles and relations;
  • Improving the affordability, reliability, capacity and convenience of modern energy services can help achieve gender-equitable outcomes, and will be critical for universal energy access;
  • Engaging with political processes can help women access modern energy services and change gender norms.