Currently, about 840 million people globally live without access to electricity and 2.9 billion lack access to clean cooking solutions and are exposed to poor air quality, mostly among women and children, causing millions of deaths every year. Despite increasing efforts and interventions of the international community, the world is not on track to achieve electricity for all. Clean cooking is still lagging far behind. This lack of attention continues to cause severe negative effects on health and environment. Being one of the biggest challenges of the energy access sector, more efforts are needed to ensure access to modern energy for all, and to achieve gender equality, as required by the 2030 SDG agenda, which comprises of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With this in mind, over the years ENERGIA has developed a holistic and comprehensive approach to energy and gender, which combines evidence building (both academic and on-the-ground), awareness creation, lobbying and advocacy, gender mainstreaming, knowledge and information sharing, women’s economic empowerment, organisational strengthening and network building. This multi-pronged approach allowed ENERGIA to achieve key milestones in enhancing the gender responsiveness of the energy sector.
Between 2015 and 2018, ENERGIA refined this approach within the ENERGIA Phase 5 programme. The development goal of the ENERGIA Phase 5 programme was to increase women’s and men’s equal and equitable access to, and control over, sustainable energy services as an essential right to development. The goal was aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) ambitions: to eradicate poverty (SDG 1), to achieve gender equality and empower women (SDG 5), to ensure universal access to energy (SDG 7), and to promote environmentally and climate-related sustainable development (SDG 13). Working towards the overall development goal, the Programme’s specific objective was to contribute to women’s empowerment through the strengthening of gender mainstreaming in energy policies, programmes and institutions at the international, regional and national levels.
The following blogpost provides highlights of the ENERGIA Phase 5 programme, which brought together fifteen core partners working in seven countries (Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda), thanks to the financial support of a co-funding arrangement from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoF) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate General International Cooperation (DGIS).
Advocacy and lobby to create a more gender balanced policy environment
Advocacy and lobby have always been pivotal within ENERGIA’s activities. During Phase 5, many efforts and actions have been directed towards and taken with the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative, which mobilises political commitments for SDG 7, the first-ever universal goal on energy. Gender is now included in SEforALL’s Strategic Framework, Business Plan, People Centered Accelerator and Forums. Furthermore, 25 key development actors committed to mainstreaming gender and women empowerment strategies in investments and energy access interventions, amongst which SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Let There Be Light International, and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (EU DG DEVCO). Together with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (changed to Clean Cooking Alliance in 2018) we urged the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGI) to integrate clean cooking indicators in the Post-2015 indicator framework, particularly under SDG 3 on health and well-being, SDG 5 on gender equality and SDG 7 on energy access. The proposed modified indicators enabled an accurate and effective measure of the progress in access to and improving of cooking energy. ENERGIA planned to be closely involved in the process and this is exactly why ENERGIA currently co-chairs the Multi-Stakeholder Technical Advisory Group on Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7-TAG) to assure the recognition and inclusion of gender indicators in the review processes of the SDG implementation. Remarkable collaborations with United Nations entities, such as UN DESA, UN Women, and UNEP, international and regional bodies and institutions, including the International Energy Agency (IEA), ECREEE (ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and financial institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank have been strengthened and intensified.
Gender mainstreaming in national energy policies and institutions
In the ENERGIA focus countries (Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Senegal and Tanzania) all the governments developed energy Action Agendas (AAs) and Investment Prospectuses (IPs), which aim to provide the long-term vision that ensure efforts and implementations to be in place. In Phase 5, seven SEforALL AAs included gender objectives/components/activities as a direct result of ENERGIA partners’ inputs and were endorsed by national developing country governments and the SEforALL partnership. These include the SEforALL AA from Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal; Kenya SEforALL Investment Prospectus; Senegal National Renewable Energies Action Plan (NREAP); Senegal National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) and Gender and Energy Action Plan in Tanzania. As a result of these efforts, Kenya’s Ministry of Energy launched its Gender Policy on November 1st, the first ever on the African continent. ENERGIA and its long-term partner Practical Action Eastern Africa played a key role in the development of the policy, which aims to raise the level of gender awareness, change attitudes and inculcate an engendered work culture among staff in the energy sector.
In Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Senegal and Tanzania, our partners launched national awareness raising campaigns on how gender-sensitive practices can enhance the effectiveness and impacts of energy interventions. These campaigns took different forms, from engaging naltionally renowned vloggers, singers and actors as ambassadors to digital campaigns and sensitization campaigns in schools. All together, these campaigns reached 33 million people.
Women’s economic empowerment
One of the greatest achievements of this Phase was the inclusion of women in the energy value chain and their engagement as agents of change through the establishment of women-led micro and small enterprises (SMEs). These businesses delivered energy products and services to 2.9 million consumers living in far-flung areas in seven countries: Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. ENERGIA collaborated with five leading partners (CRT-Nepal, Energy 4 Impact, Kopernik Solutions, Practical Action and Solar Sister) which selected and trained 4,153 women entrepreneurs in technical and managerial aspects of running an energy business, leadership and empowerment.. Women received continued support from designated mentors, not only to run their business, tap into energy markets and set up the distribution chains, but also to build agency and leadership leading to enhanced self-esteem and stronger roles within their communities. A self-reflection of the Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) Programme has been undertaken by ENERGIA and partners at the end of Phase 5. Together, they analysed lessons learned and failures compiling the publication “Supporting last-mile women energy entrepreneurs: What works and what does not.”
Promoting understanding and actions on gender in energy through knowledge management
Being a network, ENERGIA identifies the production and dissemination of communication and knowledge products as an integral part of its actions. In Phase 5, ENERGIA produced 248 knowledge and communication products, disseminated to over 10,000 professionals and practitioners through a variety of means including newsletter, social media, website, ENERGIA News publications. In collaboration with the WEE partners, ENERGIA developed an online platform to share women entrepreneurs’ inspirational stories. The so-called Empowerment Journeys series gives women a unique opportunity to raise their voices and build knowledge on women’s participation in the energy value chain and their leadership roles in spurring energy market growth, thereby providing energy access to last-mile communities. The series has been confirmed in Phase 6, and it can be found here.
The challenges, successes and failures of Phase 5 have guided the development of ENERGIA’s strategic plan for 2018-2022. The new programme is designed to achieve three specific objectives with four intervention areas: Women’s economic empowerment, Enabling environment and advocacy, Thought leadership and networking. More can be found here.
You can download the full Phase 5 report here.