Partner Spotlight: ENERGIA

Men and women differ in the purposes for which they need and use energy, and so do their levels of access to it. Even where infrastructure is physically available, the poor and women are often hindered in the actual access to energy, due to lack of finance, appliances, information, training and education. Moreover, institutional structures often benefit men, who at the household level in many cases have a stronger decision making role than women, even over energy products and services that are mostly used by women.

ENERGIA, International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy, works towards achieving equal and equitable access to and control over energy services for women and men. Given the challenges and constraints women face, our focus is on empowering women in the energy value chain, advocating for inclusion of gender in energy policies and programmes and providing the evidence base for improving the effectiveness of energy investments.

Children in Kakamega, Kenya, are able to make their homework thanks to solar lighting. Photo: Sven Torfinn/ENERGIA

ENERGIA’s current work areas are:

Women’s economic empowerment
More than 4,000 women entrepreneurs in the energy sector receive training, hand held support and technical assistance to grow their business. Together, these women provide clean energy services to over 2 million people in hard to reach rural areas in Africa and Asia. Trainings and support include market analysis, drafting business plans, sales training, introduction to financial institutions, and also fostering agency and leadership.

Policy influencing and advocacy
Policy influencing and advocacy have been at the heart of ENERGIA since its creation in 1996. Our goal was and is to change decision- and policy-making regarding energy policies and investments at the national and international level and to catalyse the interest of, and collaboration with, key energy stakeholders.

Lusia (l.) and Maria (r.) are two young clean energy entrepreneurs living in Lembata, Indonesia. Both women participate in ENERGIA and partner Kopernik’s “Woner Women Eastern Indonesia” project and have been able to boost their sales. Maria even has two sub-agents who help her sell clean energy technologies across villages. Photo: Arley Mardo/ENERGIA

Our Gender and Energy Research Programme will provide the evidence base for improving the effectiveness of energy investment by understanding and addressing women’s needs for modern energy services through empirical research. The research areas are:
• Electrification through grid and decentralised systems
• Productive uses of energy
• The political economy of energy sector dynamics
• Energy sector reforms and regulation
• The role of the private sector in scaling up energy access
• Unlocking the economic benefits of rural energy

Gender mainstreaming
ENERGIA works with a wide variety of (governmental) organisations and institutions to develop and implement a gender focus in their programmes, using an ENERGIA designed methodology, which includes the following steps:
• Assess the likely implications of a specific project or programme for women and men (diagnose)
• Agree on what that specific programme or project wants to achieve from a gender perspective (gender goal and strategy)
• Design activities on how these gender goals can be met
• Build consensus among stakeholders on the approach
• Develop a gender sensitive monitoring strategy

ENERGIA is hosted and supported by Hivos, an international organisation that seeks new solutions to persistent global issues.

“Constituting seventy per cent of the world’s poor today, women form the very core of the developmental challenge”, said Sheila Oparaocha, coordinator of the ENERGIA network. “Women’s economic empowerment is essential to ending poverty and advancing gender equality.”