Late Developers: Gender Mainstreaming in the Energy Sector

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Since the  Fourth World Conference on Women, held in  Beijing  in 1995,  gender  mainstreaming has become both a goal and a methodology for achieving women’s equality.  It enables influencing policy processes so that policies and programmes reflect better  women ’ s needs and priorities and that these are supported by a more equitable distribution  of resources.  In the South, gender mainstreaming has taken a foothold in many sectors of  the economy particularly those strongly associated with women, such as health, education,  forestry and agriculture, but curious ly enough not energy, despite i n the South, energy  at the  micro - level being “ women ’ s business ” , in the sense that the gender division of labour at the  household level generally allocates the provision of energy to women.  

Policy makers do not recognise the existence of gender needs in energy services and as a  consequence women ’ s energy needs tend to be marginalised in policy documents (Clancy,  2000) (Mensah - Kutin, 2006) .  Energy planning is implemented in a  gender - neutral way, in  other words it is assumed that energy policies benefit women and men equally.  What we find  in reality is that energy planning is  gender - blind , that it fails to recognise that needs o f men  and women are different (ENERGIA, 2008 ).   Such a planning approach misses issues that  are of relevance to women and inadvertently discriminates, usually against women 2 .  For  example, a policy to promote the use of electricity by small enterprises neglects the fact that  many of women ’ s tradition al income generating activities use process heat (such as, food  preparation and processing, beer brewing, and pottery)  (Woroniuk and Schalkwyk, 1998)  for  which electricity is not the cheapest option.  Whereas a more  gender - aware policy for small  enterprise s would promote a form of energy more compatible with process heat generation,  for example, an effective distribution networks for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)  (Karlsson,  2003) . During the preparations for Beijing, a number of women working in the energy sector  realized that if progress was to be made with getting gender and energy onto the  international agenda, a very focused, practical and global networked approach would be  needed. These women came together in 1995 to establish ENERGIA 3 , the international  network on gender and energy. After the Beijing Conference, w omen and men  began to  advocate the need to engender energy policy (see for example, (Annecke, 2003) ) . Most of  the initial activity primarily took  place at the international level.  This pape r describes  an approach to  gender mainstreaming in the energy sector undertaken  by ENERGIA in selected countries in Africa.  It begins with an explanation why gender  mainstreaming has been so late to develop in the energy sector: that energy seen by social scientists as too technical to be of relevance and the background and daily work of engineers and economists working in energy has little linkage with social policy.  The second  part of the paper describes a theoretical framework for the development of a  gender  sensitive energy policy.  The third part of the paper describes the approach ENERGIA took in  gender mainstreaming in the energy sector, including the development of a set of tools, such  as gender goals, suitable for engendering energy policy.

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