Gender and Energy in the North

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As yet, in northern countries, there has hardly been any research on energy and the sustainable production and consumption of energy from a gender perspective 1 . One reason for this is that gender specific effects are significantly more indirect and subtle in the North than in the South 2 . Another reason is a general lack of gender specific data. Furthermore, gender aspects often seem to be neglected on purpose – even if they are evident. The lack of gender specific approaches, as well as the under-representation of women in the energy sector in the North (in energy economy, policy, and planning), can be observed in the low participation of women’s organizations at the relevant conferences and other decision-making processes, too, on national 3 and international levels. Consequently, gender specific demands do not appear in the rele- vant documents. Most of the few women working in the energy sector do not address gender aspects. This may be due to the fact that women in extreme minority positions in their professional work are subject to an enormous pressure to adaptation. Usually, they are struggling to be acknowledged as experts, and thus frequently outdistance themselves from other women. To take on the position of the "disadvantaged" in this situation – and this is how women are seen in terms of women promotion and women ap- proaches – would mean to risk the hard won acceptance of their expert reputation. (Hickel 1994, Huber/Rose 1994, Jansen/Rudolph 1997, Molvaer/Stein 1994) Even the few women who oppose to the pressure to adaptation and do concern themselves with gender aspects do not "mainstream" these aspects, but often address them in the frame of volunteer work or private initiatives, separate from the "real" energy policy and energy planning within their professional work. As a consequence, there is a complete lack of gender mainstreaming in the sense of screening of all politics to their different impacts on women and men. However, some years ago, sev- eral "women energy projects" have emerged. Recently, some EU funded projects to support women in energy utilities have been undertaken. These give reason for the hope, that gender aspects are slowly making their way into the energy sector – even though the latter projects focused on women’s participation, disregarding the influence of gender mainstreaming on the contents. Because of the described lack of gender related research and disaggregated data, the following expo- sition is to be seen as conclusions drawn from non-existing research, and from results of research neglecting gender aspects, rather than as results based on sound data and research. The following report refers mainly to Europe. Most references and examples are based on German sources, however, most conclusions are valid other countries of the European Union, as well.

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