This article relates to: Gender in energy efficiency

Topic introduction: Gender in energy efficiency

By Edward Vine, Affiliate, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Energy efficiency in homes and businesses is a way to improve the lives of women, particularly because women often are responsible for a greater share of the burden of housework and childcare. Additionally, women’s economic activities, particularly those in the informal sector, are reliant on heat intensive processes, where efficiency measures can mean an increase in income as well as improvements in labor conditions. This 'discussion' will provide an overview of the gender and energy efficiency nexus and present recommendations for evaluators of gender in energy efficiency projects, and gender and inequity perspectives in project evaluation. A few key points to keep in mind:
  1. The UN's Sustainable Development Goal 5 states: "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls".
  2. For the evaluation community, evaluators need to focus on WHO engages with the program: Who was served and where they belong in the continuum of need (rather than focus on output)?
  3. The field of gender and energy is still emerging and evolving: most focus has been on renewable energy and fuels, but this is changing as more evaluations focus on electricity use - but very little attention has been paid to energy efficiency.
  4. There are lots of opportunities to study energy efficiency and gender, particularly in household energy management, food processing, and agriculture.
  5. Women bear the brunt of relying on inefficient energy sources and technologies, leading to health, safety and empowerment issues.
  6. In addition to the "women as vulnerable" perspective (#5), women can play a more active role as "agents of change" (e.g., leading organizations to help other women in managing energy use in the home).
Evaluators have a critical role to play in addressing gender and energy, such as:
  1. Ensure that the Terms of Reference (commonly used in Request for Proposals - RFPs) for selecting an evaluation team requires gender analysis: the team should have gender expertise, be gender balanced and engage with relevant project partners working on gender
  2. Partner with other organizations with gender expertise for reviewing the evaluation process or reports.
  3. Monitor and evaluate:
      1. Changes in women's empowerment, work productivity, income, health, education, security
      2. Barriers to participation in project activities
      3. Unexpected impacts on women
4. Develop evaluation frameworks that examine participation in policy and program design and implementation by gender and that examine impacts of such programs and adoption of technologies by gender