International Workshop on Gender and Energy State of the Art and Policy Implications for Women's Empowerment - efewee

 
International Workshop on Gender and Energy
State of the Art and Policy Implications for
          Women’s Empowerment
           12 December 2016 |New Delhi

                Proceedings
Table of Contents

Background ......................................................................................................................................................1

Summary of Sessions .....................................................................................................................................1

Inaugural Session ...........................................................................................................................................3

Setting the Stage: Strangely little is known about Electricity's Impact on Women’s

Empowerment ................................................................................................................................................7

Session 1: Empowerment through energy: Which contexts and policies actually work -

and what kind of new evidence is needed? ....................................................................................... 10

Session 2: Voices from the field- Is anyone listening? .................................................................. 14

Session 3: Social transitions for gender effective energy transitions- Steps to Strides.... 18

Acknowledgements ..................................................................................................................................... 20

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Background
The provision of modern energy services is crucial to human well-being and is considered
essential to support overall economic development. Modern energy is also considered as an
important contributor to improving gender equality and social inclusion especially in
developing contexts where particularly women often experience harsh living conditions
including discriminating norms. Previously conducted studies in the field of gender and energy
have revealed that enhanced access to modern energy sources have often brought about
significant changes in the lives of women, such as ease of doing household chores, improved
health, increase in facilities for education, and in some cases, greater opportunities for
livelihood generation. But a careful examination of the scenario shows that there are no explicit
evidences of electricity’s impact on gender relations, and more often than not, policies are
usually gender-blind. Hence a broader and more critical perspective is essential – one that
actively addresses gender disparities in the distribution and control of resources, technologies
and services with complementary efforts to promote gender equitable systems that allow both
women and men to reap the full benefits of investments.
On this accord, TERI and the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo
organised an international workshop, as part of the on-going inter-disciplinary research project
- ‘Exploring Factors that Enhance and restrict Women’s Empowerment through
Electrification’ (EFEWEE), on December 12, 2016 in New Delhi. The EFEWEE project is being
carried out by the University of Oslo in partnership with TERI and aims to explore and
understand the linkages between women’s empowerment and electricity access and the factors
that may enhance or restrict it. This full-day workshop was aimed at bringing together leading
international and national academics, policy makers and practitioners, working in the gender
and energy sector, as well as gender experts representing non-energy sectors to share their
perspectives, experiences and ideas by creating room for dialogue.

Summary of Sessions
The workshop commenced with welcome remarks by Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI.
The inaugural session included special addresses by Ms Sheila Oparaocha, International
Coordinator & Programme Manager, ENERGIA IS, the Netherlands and Ms Nishtha Satyam,
Head, Strategic Partnerships, Policy Impact and Public Relations, UN Women, India; and the
inaugural address by Ms Jyoti Arora, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Power, Government of
India. The workshop was structured into three technical sessions, which were preceded by an
introductory presentation on ‘Setting the Stage: Strangely little is known about electricity's
impact on Women’s Empowerment’, by TERI and the University of Oslo. The findings of the
scoping study of Research Area-1 (Electrification through grid and decentralised systems) of
the ENERGIA Gender and Energy Research Programme were discussed on the basis of a
review of the electricity policies of India, Kenya and Nepal and a review of literature on the
impact of electricity on women’s empowerment.
The first session was an in-depth panel discussion, moderated by Ms Elizabeth Cecelski,
international gender and energy expert from USA, on the need for evidence and the current
                                               1
international framework for policies that can drive a change through access to modern energy
services. Certain issues on which discussions were initiated include-

      Under which conditions may access to electricity empower women? Will traditional
       roles tend to remain entrenched?
      How can policy and/or the technical and institutional design of programmes offer scope
       for gender inclusion in the energy sector?
      Would increasing the number of women decision-makers in the energy sector warrant
       that energy challenges are met and that gender bias is avoided during implementation
       and beyond?
      What kind of research agenda would emphasis gender considerations in policy and
       practice?

The second session was moderated by Dr Veena Joshi, a well-known rural energy expert from
India, and presented ‘voices from the field’ where the participants discussed interesting
experiences from the field and how energy initiatives and business models have strengthened
the positive impacts on gender. These discussions sought to answer some pertinent questions
such as:

      Can government and donor institutions, private sector and the civil society reap more
       effective results by targeting energy programmes that enhance benefits for women, and
       if so, how?
      What lessons on gender inclusion can be learned from successful practises and missed
       opportunities in on-going projects?
      What factors in energy access projects are important for achieving women’s
       empowerment at the individual and community levels?

The third panel moderated by Dr Mumbi Machera, Lecturer, Department of Sociology,
University of Nairobi, Kenya, focussed on how gender equality in the energy sector was weighed
against gender opportunities and vulnerabilities of other sectors and what steps or strides are
required to complement social transitions. The topics and questions raised in this session were -

      What are the social transitions that accompany energy transitions? How can women be
       empowered to take the lead in the energy sector?
      How can policies governing other sectors assist to develop cross-sectoral synergies for
       women’s empowerment?
      What could be the enabling environment that is a prerequisite for social transitions?
       What are the linkages? Where is the evidence?

                                               2
Inaugural Session
Dr Ajay Mathur extended a warm welcome to the esteemed guests and participants of the
workshop. He briefly discussed the purpose of this international workshop, which was to
analyse gender and electricity in the larger sense and look at some very fundamental issues
related to gender and energy. Dr Mathur stated that there has been a significant progress in the
electricity sector in the last 30 years. However, the outcomes of the various energy projects and
programmes have, over time, impacted men and women differently. He also observed that the
role of women in developing, preparing, and identifying these initiatives influences how people
benefit from these. He raised certain questions regrading the problems encountered in this
scenario - Where is the sociological understanding of energy end-uses? What social relations are
built up during the generation and use of energy? Why are women not seen on the supply side,
                                                              planning side and in institutional
                                                              frameworks?
                                                            Dr Mathur also mentioned some of
                                                            the other factors that need to be
                                                            addressed – for instance, the need
                                                            to monitor investments to check
                                                            how they accommodate women’s
                                                            interests and how actual end use
                                                            of energy varies from person to
                                                            person. On the positive side, he
                                                            gave examples of how things are
                                                            changing at the grassroots level.
                                                            One such example was from one of
                                                            the studies by TERI, where a group
                                                            of men preferred the use of
                                                            induction cookware for cooking,
                                                            which is a clear deviation from
traditional practices. He concluded by wishing everyone successful deliberations at the
workshop, which may also lead to providing inputs for policy formulation.
The welcome address by Dr Ajay Mathur was followed by a special address by Ms Sheila
Oparaocha. Ms Oparaocha spoke on the state of the art for women’s empowerment. She
briefed the audience about her association with the ENERGIA Network and also familiarized
them with ENERGIA’s work and the different
programmes that are spread across various
countries. Ms Oparaocha’s key message was that over    The role of women in developing
the years progress has been made on the energy         and implementing energy access
access front, but it is not sufficient to meet the     programmes is crucial. Hence it is
SE4ALL objectives. She observed that over the years,   important to address gender in
there has been a change in the narrative of energy     energy.
policies. There has been a shift from addressing
women as victims of lack of energy access to agents    - Dr Ajay Mathur
of change and leaders in the energy economy. Certain

                                               3
West African countries have now come up with stand-alone policies on gender mainstreaming
and energy access. Also, some climate investment funds have started dedicating strategies to
encompass gender elements. Other meaningful changes she mentioned included - the placing of
electricity at par with cooking energy in SDG7, inflow of more grants and programmes on
gender and energy, arrival of impact investors and
different actors that bring their own unique methods.
Ms Oparaocha felt that the key take away from all these         SDG7 on energy is recognised
efforts is that there is now a more targeted approach on        as an enabler for SDG5 on
strengthening women’s economic development in the               gender equality and
energy value chain. She also talked about the gaps that         women’s empowerment,
exist, especially in cooking energy, where progress has not     perhaps why we discuss
been consistent with population growth. Even in the case        gender approaches in scaling
of electricity access, progress in the rural sector has been    up energy access.
limited. She remarked that only a small fraction of the total
                                                                - Sheila Oparaocha
grants made to the energy sector go towards gender
inclusion. Ms Oparaocha also talked about the need for
effectively packaging results from research in order to build empirical evidence, which can be
included into policy. She concluded by emphasizing the need for enabling the policy
environment, implementing the gender strategy of climate funds, scaling up of programmes for
empirical evidence, and capacity building.
Ms Nishtha Satyam talked about how lack of energy access has hindered social progress. Even
today in India, around 85% of rural households are still using solid biomass for cooking and
heating purposes. She opined that given the present conditions, it may take around 150 years
for the world to adopt non-polluting energy options for cooking and 6 decades to achieve
universal access to energy. She also stressed that if India does not achieve the SDGs, as
committed in international fora, it will be impossible for the world or the United Nations to
achieve any goal listed in its 2030 agenda. The realisation of the full potential of India’s 700
million women and girls, in terms of economic empowerment, social development and
environmental sustainability are the triple wins the world needs today. She stated that the links
between gender and energy are not obvious to policy makers, and when work is done on the
energy front, women are incidentally and accidentally benefitted.
Ms Satyam further explained how the lack of access to sustainable energy disproportionately
affects men and women. Rural women spend around 5 hours a day collecting fuel for cooking,
and also spend more time doing household chores as compared to men. In India, the total value
                                      of the time spent by women on unpaid care work and
                                      household activities accounts for nearly 39 per cent of
   In India, the total value of the   the total current GDP. She also pointed out that lack of
   time spent by women on unpaid      energy access may also be a contributing factor to
   care work and household activities violence against women (especially during collection
   accounts for nearly 39 per cent of of fuel wood).
   the total current GDP.             The overwhelming positive gains for women in the
  - Nishtha Satyam                       energy access sector were also elucidated as follows-

                                               4
   Rural electrification is expected to bring a significant increase in women’s employment with
    no comparable increase in male employment
   There is a good probability of rural women working outside homes
She also enlightened the audience about the advantages of the overall empowerment of women:

   By empowering women to participate in the economy, 3 trillion dollars are expected to be
    added to the country’s economy by 2035
   When investments are made for women’s empowerment intentionally                   (and not
    accidentally), they tend to reinvest most of the income into their family’s welfare, thereby
    helping generations to come
   Women represent an untapped market for decentralised renewable energy, and as
    entrepreneurs, they demonstrate more than twice the business capacity and success as their
    male counterparts
She further shared that UN Women has partnered with the Ministry of New and Renewable
Energy (MNRE) for a flagship programme on women entrepreneurship. This programme was
launched in the Conference of the Parties (COP22) of United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change. Ms Satyam also highlighted the key features of this initiative:

   Government of India will co-finance the project for 5 million dollars over a period of 5 years
   The programme will be implemented in 4 states of India- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar
    Pradesh and Nagaland, beginning from 2017
   The programme will work with 100,000 disadvantaged women in gaining better access to
    energy
   It will identify gender specific structural barriers faced by women entrepreneurs, encourage
    productive use of energy, increase women’s participation and promote women leadership in
    gender-responsive energy policy making
Ms Satyam concluded her captivating discourse by calling all, on behalf of UN Women, to advice,
inform and hold the various actors accountable for the work they are doing in this field.
Ms       Jyoti    Arora
delivered the inaugural
address. She began by
acknowledging       that
gender has rarely been
included as a planning
parameter            for
electricity, as it is
widely believed that the
collateral benefits of
energy access plans will
trickle down to all
sections of society,
including women. She
said the government is
spending close to INR 1

                                                5
trillion (approx. USD 14 billion) in rural electrification schemes like the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya
Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), formerly known as the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana
(RGGVY), but there is no gender mainstreaming in the policy planning process, and women are
often marginalised. Ms Arora stated that there is limited conceptual and empirical work on the
linkages between energy, poverty alleviation and gender, and how access to modern energy
sources can lead to empowerment. In the absence of such evidence, the government has been
trying out different models. She raised some relevant questions like - is the current kind of
infrastructure planning adequate? Are more direct and focussed initiatives required in energy
policy planning and delivery mechanism?
Ms Arora also shared some programmes run by the MNRE that have benefitted women in the
past - the Village Energy Security Programme (VESP) and the on-going Unnat Chula Abhiyan
scheme. She also introduced the audience to some of the new initiatives by the government:

    Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), through which over the next three years, around 50
     million women from below poverty line (BPL) families will be given LPG connections,
     against a budget of INR 50 million. Over 12 million women have already benefitted from this
     scheme, and it is expected that the numbers will reach 15 million by the next financial year
                                                         In the field of energy efficiency, two
                                                 programmes are being run, which are
                                                 benefitting women - the energy efficient pump
    The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
                                                 set programme (to help women in farming) and
    proposes that in the next 3 years, 50
                                                 the solar street lighting programme (for safety
    million women will be given LPG
                                                 of women)
    connections. Out of this 1.2 crore women
    have already been given this access.         But Ms Arora conceded that gender was never
                                                 the objective while devising these programmes.
    -Jyoti Arora
                                                 In order to include gender elements in policy,
                                                 credible analysis to establish a direct linkage
                                                 between electricity and gender based
empowerment is required. Ms Arora further said that the government would be keen to receive
inputs from the workshop and the EFEWEE study. She also proposed to get insights into the
following:

   In a market-based mechanism like the electricity sector, will gender-based market
    intervention be needed to achieve women’s empowerment?
   Since India is now an electricity surplus country, can there be some convergence between
    electricity and LPG for cooking in rural areas?
She also suggested including the experiences of Bangladesh in this regard as considerable
amount of work has been done there. Ms Arora concluded by saying that the government of
India aimed to provide 24/7 electricity access to all by the year 2019, and hoped this study
would provide inputs and evidence that may be included in the upcoming policies.

                                               6
Setting the Stage: Strangely little is known about
electricity's impact on Women’s Empowerment
(Presentation by TERI and University of Oslo)

The inaugural session was succeeded by a session on ‘Setting the Stage’, where Research Area-1
of the ENERGIA Gender and Energy Research Programme presented the findings and lessons
learnt from the scoping phase of the EFEWEE project.

Mr Debajit Palit, Associate Director, Social Transformation Division, TERI, initiated the
discussion and presented the findings from the policy review undertaken as part of the scoping
study of the project. He explained how it is important to go beyond impact assessment, and
understand the pre-conditions, process and design of the electrical systems, to check whether
the systems have been designed in a gendered way or not, whether women and men are equally
involved in the supply chain, and whether and why the involvement of women in grid-
connected systems is less than in the case of decentralized systems. As a part of the project,
international frameworks on
energy were studied including
the SE4All initiative, and it was
revealed that gender is not
addressed in many of these
international frameworks, and
even if it is, it is not done in a
systematic manner; rather the
approach adopted is very
piece meal. He added that
international and national
policies and initiatives are
often gender-blind. While
policies are intended to be
gender-neutral, such policies
produce different outcomes
for men and women as baselines are inherently different. He emphasised that in order to get
similar outcomes and benefits for both the genders, policies are needed to be designed
                                                acknowledging the differentiated needs of men
                                                and women explicitly. Mr Palit shared that,
                                                during the course of discussions carried out
  International initiatives and national        with different stakeholders in both on and off-
                                                grid projects, it was revealed that women are
  policies for electrification are often gender
                                                indeed recruited as a result of affirmative
  blind in terms of anticipated benefits. The
                                                policies of the government. However, women
  voice of women is not reaching policy
                                                are still reluctant to work as field staff because
  makers because there is a lack of pressure    of various non-enabling environment factors for
  from the grassroots level.                    them in the field. He emphasised the need for
   -Debajit Palit                               sister policies to complement electricity
                                                policies, and the need for social, political and
                                                economic         empowerment         to      occur

                                                7
simultaneously in order to fully enable women to take active participation in the supply chain
as well as in decision making. Mr Palit also pointed out the failure of the government to collect
gender disaggregated household data during surveys, which can assist in more gender sensitive
policy formulation. He also stated that, men usually attend, or are invited to attend meetings
with government officials during surveys, thus, the voices of women are not reaching the policy
makers. He further brought out the contrast between how men are usually invited for meetings
for work related to infrastructure development, such as roads, electricity, etc. whereas women
are involved in activities related to maternal health, nutrition, vaccinations, etc., thereby clearly
showing the difference in the way women and men are involved in the grassroots consultations.

Thereafter, Dr Tanja Winther, Associate Professor and Research Director for Energy and
Consumption, Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo
presented findings from the review of literature on existing evidence and methodologies
employed to measure women’s empowerment in energy projects. Dr Winther shared three main
problems encountered in literature - (1) Definition of empowerment is unclear; (2) Gender
goals are not clearly defined and (3) Fragmented evidence.

She observed that recruitment of women into village bodies through the provision of women’s
reservation is not translating into women-centric electricity planning. She further elaborated
that in case of grid connected systems, the connection is given in the name of the house owner,
which becomes an important premise as to the decisions being taken. Also, appliances like
mobile phones are a symbol of high status in society and if made available to more and more
women, have a potential for transforming the social norms. Dr Winther also talked about the
methodological challenges encountered by researchers while measuring women’s
empowerment in energy projects. Some of the main concerns identified were -

   Quantitative studies make use of welfare indicators and gauge the effect of the presence or
    absence of electricity on those
    indicators. The disadvantage of
    this method is that it fails to
    explain how a particular result
    has been arrived at. Sometimes
    contradictory results may emerge,
    which also pose problems.
   Qualitative work looks at the
    data in a more context-specific
    manner and attempts to explain
    the complex processes involved in
    any intervention and the reasons
    for obtaining any result or
    outcome. The problem with this
    method is that it becomes hard to
    generalise the results.
Dr Winther further elaborated on the
areas where work needs to be done,
which can be summarised as follows -

                                                 8
  Systemise the evidence that is known, define empowerment and how to measure it in both
   qualitative and quantitative ways
 Look at the negative effects of electricity as well; whether any norms or ideologies are being
   affected
 What kinds of indicators can be used to monitor gender and electricity? For instance -
   Factors like who decides where to put the light bulbs – and in which rooms are they located
   in – can be very revealing
 Different meanings of ownership in case of on-grid
   and off-grid projects .There should be convergence in
   these definitions                                            For energy policy we also
 How electricity and technology can enable time saving         need to look into the future
   for women and the changes it may bring to the whole          not just the past. Research on
   family                                                       influence of policy
Dr Winther concluded by saying that despite the presence        implementation is important.
of many case studies from the field providing anecdotal             - Annemarije Kooijman-van Dijk
evidence, more research is needed to build up on
empirical evidence.

Ms Annemarije Kooijman-van Dijk, Programme Coordinator, Gender and Energy Research,
ENERGIA IS, Netherlands, who was a discussant in the session, emphasised the need to build
empirical evidence rather than anecdotal evidences. She posed certain important questions like:

       How sensitive are the indicators used in surveys to the local context?
       Can one look into the ‘future’? - Is it possible to anticipate the relevance of policies in the
        context of the times to come?
       How will one look beyond the various case studies to influence policy?
Dr Winther addressed some of the questions. According to her, by considering certain factors
and comparing cross-country data, it may be possible to bring out the context and conditions
that may have led to an impact – including what role policy can play to enhance women’s
empowerment through energy.

                                                  9
Session 1: Empowerment through energy: Which contexts
and policies actually work - and what kind of new
evidence is needed?

The first panel was chaired by Ms Elizabeth Cecelski. She began the discussion by reiterating
that there are various definitions of empowerment and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence
present on the impacts of energy access on different aspects of women’s lives, but empirical
evidence is still limited. Ms Cecelski observed that the increase in the employment of women as
compared to men in the rural electrification sector
has happened incidentally without any gender-
responsive measures or particular action. She spoke
about how a second kind of evidence is needed that           Although the importance is understood by
does not show benefits, but shows the effectiveness
                                                             energy practitioners, the empirical
of the different approaches to including gender in
                                                             evidence is limited and there are limited
energy programmes and policies. It needs to be
                                                             policy studies that highlight the impact on
shown that taking a gender approach (or not) to
                                                             women due to electricity access
electrification makes a difference. She added that
there has been limited evidence which convincingly           -Elizabeth Cecelski
shows that targeted, gender-responsive approaches
provide more benefits than just universal
electrification. She also questioned why best practices from successful projects have not been
adopted by other projects. In case of women as energy entrepreneurs, Ms Cecelski necessitated
evidence in the following three broad areas:

1. Who performs better as entrepreneurs and sales agents of energy access – men or women?
2. What kind of support is needed to make women more effective as entrepreneurs?

                                                10
3. Are women energy
   entrepreneurship
   programmes
   successful  business
   models? Would they
   like some kind of
   outside support, like
   subsidies?
Further, she emphasized
the need to prioritise in
terms of building an
empirical evidence base
on the gender and energy linkages.

Dr Bipasha Baruah, Associate Professor, Women's Studies and Feminist Research, University
of Western Ontario, Canada has been working on global trends in women’s employment in clean
and renewable energy since the last five years. She
presented the case of OECD countries, where the trend
was of women being employed in non-technical aspects
of renewable energy, with maximum representation in         There are misperceptions about
sales, followed by administrative positions. Only few       women in technical fields. OECD
women qualified as engineers and technicians. She also      countries are doing a poor job in
identified that the renewable energy sector is still        convincing women that technical
better than the traditional oil and gas sector in terms of  jobs are also socially beneficial
the number of women employed. This was primarily             -Dr Bipasha Baruah
attributed to the larger problem of under-
representation of women in STEM (Science Technology
Engineering and Mathematics) fields, as compared to men, who are also better paid.
Nevertheless, for women, STEM jobs still pay better than non-STEM jobs. Dr Baruah also
revealed that emerging economies are better than OECD countries in terms of number of
women in technical occupations. While the volume of jobs created in these countries are more,
however, they tend to be precarious and are often poorly paid. She concluded her talk by saying
that in OECD countries, the renewable energy discourse is mainly about technology and
financing, and only perfunctory conversation takes place about gender equality and social
justice.

Dr Andrew Barnett, Director, The Policy Practice Limited, UK, followed the discussion and
opined that the discourse should go both ways - empowerment gained through energy access
and energy access gained through empowerment. He shared that it is about the distribution and
contestation of power between groups and individuals - intra and inter-household power
relations. He posed three questions from his perspective:

                                              11
   Women’s representation doesn’t necessarily mean power or changes in action. Why is
    women’s representation a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition?
   What would an engendered energy access programme on the ground look like?
   What do women want in terms of energy end uses? Is there a hierarchy to end uses?
He noted that women entering new areas of economic
activity are less likely to be blocked by men compared to
those entering traditional activities. He concluded by
asking for the focus to be on end uses of energy and on the       I emphasize that if there is no
incentives and disincentives of why people behave the way         improvement in economic
they do in the sense of gender and energy.                        empowerment of women then
                                                                  there will be no change in
                                                                  gender relations.
Representing Research Area-3 (The political economy of
energy sector dynamics), Dr Dev Nathan, Professor,                -Dr Dev Nathan
Institute for Human Development, India, presented his
views about household gender relations. He opined that if
gender relations at the household level improve, there will be scope for empowerment. He
highlighted that as and when women’s bargaining power increases, the distribution of benefits
in their favour will also go up. He also observed the difference between access to electricity and
the end-use of electricity - the extra time gained by a woman is of no use unless she invests it
into some productive use. However, if the woman is living in some remote location, where the
market is not developed, she will not be able to perform any economic activity in her free time.
Hence in such cases, women do not have any incentive to opt for time-saving energy equipment.
Dr Nathan further explained that in the case of women who are earning, their household
bargaining power will depend on whether the income is being used only for the family or it is
being used for her own needs. He concluded by saying that unless there is an improvement in
the independent economic position of women, there will not be any change in the gender
relations.

The last panellist to share her thoughts in this session was Dr Joy Clancy, Professor of Gender
and Energy CSTM, University of Twente, Netherlands. Dr Clancy began by stating that it takes
time for social change to take place. She also commented on how we simply perceive what
people’s needs and aspirations are. She opined that the role attributed to women as sales
agents of energy access is patronizing, and in order to have higher incomes and aspirations,
they need to be placed higher up the chain and not be limited to just sales agents. Another
important point raised by Dr Clancy was that small-scale enterprises, especially innovative ones,
need a lot of support. The fatalities of start-up businesses are very high. She also highlighted the
need for considering the views of electricity utilities on including gender as a policy parameter.

                                                12
The discussion generated a lot of interest in the audience
                                   and they also shared their opinions on the numerous
                                   issues that were raised. It was opined that bringing men
Seeking evidence cannot be an      into the picture of women’s empowerment was also
excuse for inaction. Evidence of   important. Also since the challenges faced in this field
policy failure should also be      are multi-pronged, the solutions must also be multi-
sought. Women in positions of      dimensional, with the need for issues like
power should be mandated to        hereditary/land rights of women, adoption of new
pursue gender goals                technology and prevention of sexual harassment to be
                                   addressed. It was also pointed out by members from the
-Jyoti Parikh, IRADe
                                   audience that emphasis should be laid on sustaining
                                   women employees in utilities and maintaining an overall
                                   gender balance in the work force.

                                          13
Session 2: Voices from the field – Is anyone listening?
The post-lunch session discussed various experiences from the field to reflect upon the energy
initiatives by government, private sector, civil society and donor agencies. This panel discussion
was chaired by Dr Veena Joshi. She remarked that this session was rooted in the ground, from
where lessons can be learnt and concrete suggestions made, which can then be taken forward
by various stakeholders including the policy makers.

Ms Farzana Rahman, Vice President, Infrastructure Development Company Limited,
Bangladesh, shared her experiences of implementing Solar Home Systems (SHS) since 2003.
According to her, the education level of women played an important role and enabled higher
capacity and a higher number of systems to be installed. Findings from their study also
indicated that female-headed households were more likely to adopt SHS than male-headed ones.
Ms Rahman also summarised the impacts of these systems:

   Reduction in kerosene consumption, leading to reduced indoor air pollution and also less
    time spent on cleaning kerosene lamps
   Kitchen lighting enabled women to pursue productive activities during the day and cook at
    night
   Extended study hours for children – now more girls are able to go for higher education
   Greater access to information has made people more aware and informed, thereby
    impacting decision making
   Few women have been trained in system installation, and they in turn train other women
    for the same

Ms Archana Tiwari, State Project Manager – Social Development, Bihar Rural Livelihood
Promotion Society (BRLPS), shared her experiences of working with the rural community in
Bihar. She spoke at length about her project, which primarily focussed on women’s decision
making abilities, increasing the institutional capacity and engaging women in macro-planning at

                                                14
the household level. The women were encouraged to buy products made by other women
entrepreneurs/institutions, for which a token amount of Rupees 500 (around U.S dollar 7) is
provided by BRLPS. The products are also subsidised by 40 per cent. She went on to explain the
details of the financial model, which has been specifically designed to accommodate the poorest,
and how there was a growing demand from other blocks looking at the success of this model in
the implemented block. She shared that the women from the benefitted blocks are encouraged
to educate women from other blocks, which also serves as a means of employment for these
women. They have also developed a cadre of women who are trained in installation and repair
work of the energy systems, thereby reducing their dependency on others. Ms Tiwari also
shared an interesting anecdote – the government of Bihar had introduced rooftop solar projects
for the people, which turned out to be quite expensive for a single household to afford. However,
these women engaged the community in creating a sufficiently high demand for this technology
from more number of households which compelled the government to reduce the prices of
these systems. She concluded her talk by sharing what women from the project sites felt about
receiving electricity – that light has not only changed their lives but also the loves of their future
generations.

Dr Shirish Sinha, Deputy Director of Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and
Cooperation, India presented a case study of a two-stage biomass gasifier installed in Odisha. He
detailed out the years of research work which finally led to the development of this technology.
He explained that the gasifier power plant was designed as a commercial model (not specifically
a community driven model), which could handle rural electrification and productive load and
also supply to the utility grid. Three such plants have been installed.
Dr Sinha gave the specific example of their project in Rayagada, which is a grid-connected
district of Odisha. The project involved producing a nutritious mix for pregnant women and
lactating mothers, which was being distributed through Anganwadi (Integrated Child
Development Services programme) workers. The process required 17kW of power for 36
hours/week of operation. He stated that a 20kW gasifier had been installed to meet the load
requirement of the enterprise and the women Self Help Group (SHG) and a small thermal
gasifier had been installed to roast grains for the mix. The success of the project was
highlighted through achievements such as enhanced hours of operation, reduced fuel (biomass)
usage, and drastic reduction in the electricity bill. It is also worth mentioning that the local
transmission and distribution utilities have signed a Power Purchase Agreement with the
women’s SHG, which will bring additional income to the women. This is the first time the
utilities have signed an agreement with an all-women group, which in itself is a remarkable
achievement.
Dr Sinha also mentioned some of the challenges associated with decentralised power projects-
requirement of multiple stakeholders, difficulty in acquiring land, and investments required for
training technical staff.

Dr Madhu Sharan, Vice President North India of Hand in Hand, India, discussed about a project
in the state of Madhya Pradesh, supported by the Asian Development Bank, which aimed to

                                                 15
create entrepreneurship opportunities for rural women from BPL families, with a special focus
on engaging them in productive uses of
energy. Dr Sharan said that the project
worked backwards, in that the districts
were getting 24 hours of electricity
supply from the government, and the
project was aimed at working on how
women could benefit from this supply.
The scale of the project was large,
spreading over 32 districts of Madhya
Pradesh, and engaged with three
electricity distribution companies
(Jabalpur, Indore and Bhopal) which
supplied electricity to these districts,
and hired 70 people (mobilizers cum
trainers).    She explained that the
methodology included training of
selected women from SHGs in
integrated aspects of gender and energy issues which helped in building their skills. They also
promoted energy efficient methods of doing household chores that may reduce the drudgery of
these women. The women were encouraged to switch from traditional ways of producing
articles (such as pottery, bangles) to mechanized ways. She spoke about the successful training
of more than 20,000 women in running energy efficient enterprises, and also creating a cadre of
trained women who were further given special training on designing, packaging, marketing and
government schemes. In conclusion, she listed some of the achievements of this initiative, which
can be summarised as follows:

   Trained 22,000 women, out of which around 19,000 are continuing with their enterprises
   Many women are making CFL bulbs, bangles and pottery using mechanised methods
   Convinced the Panchayat members to allow women to partially do away with face covering
    veils, in order to be able to run motorised pottery machines and earn an income for the
    family. As a result of this, the new generation of brides have completely rejected veils.

Ms Soma Dutta, Programme Coordinator, Women’s Economic Empowerment, ENERGIA India,
shared her views on the economic empowerment of women through equal and equitable access
and control (in terms of decision making) of energy related activities. She stated that the burden
of energy poverty is disproportionately borne by women, and therefore, women need to be
engaged on the supply side in order to increase their income. She highlighted ENERGIA’s
project, which was spread across 9 countries of Asia and Africa and engaged close to 3000
women entrepreneurs in technologies ranging from lights and cook stoves to clean water and
briquette making. The project involved working with equipment manufacturers to provide
credit on equipment and engaging with mini utilities to provide loans to women.
Ms Dutta talked about the bottlenecks in the system on the distribution front, which included a
non-existent distribution network and the flooding of the market by cheap and sub-standard

                                               16
products. Financing also continues to be a challenge. She summed up her talk by giving the
following valuable suggestions:

   Build a supply chain
   Get into agreements with good quality manufacturers
   Use mobile alerts to provide information
   Long term mentoring of women and get them to register their businesses
   Sustained training in technology, products, business literacy and financial skills
The last panellist to share her thoughts was Ms Svati Bhogle, Chairperson of Clean
Energy Access Network, who shared the case of clean cook stoves in India. Ms Bhogle opined
that the clean cook stoves are here to stay, though their usage may change with time and
location. From her experiences, she found that for women time saving is more important than
energy saving, and planners must focus more on the usage of the cook stove than subsidising it.
Through her interactions with women, she found that most women were willing to switch from
traditional methods of doing work to modern energy based appliances and give a few hours of
their day for earning an income through some productive activity. Ms Bhogle stressed that the
focus should also be on access to energy equipment rather than just energy access. She added
that if women see that they are able to earn an income of at least Rupees 200 (approx. USD 3) by
working for just 3-4 hours in a day, they are more likely to continue with such enterprises.
Successful enterprises include areca leaf plate making, flour mills, food processing, etc.
Therefore, higher capacity systems must be provided to women at lower costs. According to her,
the key lies in grass root level consultation and sustained communication with women. Different
ministries must engage with each other as well as different stakeholders and communities on
the ground, only then the success of their programmes can be ensured. In the absence of such
proactive communication, time and resources are being wasted and the process of energy
access is getting delayed.

                                                17
Session 3: Social transitions for gender effective energy
transitions – Steps to Strides
The last and final session included a panel discussion on how gender equality in the energy
sector can be seen through the lens of opportunities and vulnerabilities in the other sectors and
what measures are required to complement social transitions. The session was chaired by Dr
Mumbi Machera.

Dr Chanda Gurung Goodrich, Senior Gender Specialist at ICIMOD, Nepal started the session by
shedding light on the challenges of energy access in mountainous terrains. Therefore, in such
places off-grid models are more common. She said the financial model in such cases revolve
around providing subsidies on capital cost and assistance through loans. She also talked about
the importance of taking men into confidence to enhance women’s empowerment.

The next panelist was Dr Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Advisor, State Bank of
India. Dr Ghosh shared with the audience some key findings on the economic empowerment of
women. He said that rural women can serve as a proxy for women’s empowerment in India, as
they play a significant role in society and the development of the nation is not possible without
nurturing this segment of society. On this note, he shed light on the role of JAM (Jan Dhan,
Aadhar and Mudra) schemes launched by the government of India in strengthening women
entrepreneurship. These schemes have opened the doors to rural women for credit accessibility.
He spoke about the MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) scheme, which is
analogous to micro-finance and has helped in bringing down the capital and operating costs
involved in running enterprises. This has clearly enabled women entrepreneurship to blossom
from mere superficiality to productivity. The study conducted by SBI suggested that there is
traction in the Jan Dhan and Mudra accounts, especially in the ‘Shishu’ category of loans, where
the loan amount is less than INR 50,000 (USD 735). Another finding was that there is an overlap
between the Jan Dhan and Mudra account holders – close to 100 lakh (10 million) people have

                                               18
both types of accounts. Dr Ghosh opined that the best part of the study findings was that a
sizeable chunk of the Mudra loan account holders with the SBI were women. Another
remarkable finding shared was the distribution of women entrepreneurs across India – the
largest share came from southern India states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telengana.
This could mean that the states that were laggards in terms of economic growth in the past are
seeing more traction in women entrepreneurship through the Mudra route. He shared an
interesting point concerning the usage of the loan money. It was found that in most of the states,
the loans were used for activities related to grocery or kirana stores, retail shops and even
public utility services. But in some small, hilly states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh,
Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, etc. and some eastern Indian states like Bihar and Jharkhand
women may be compelled to purchase trucks, cars and freight transport in order to facilitate an
efficient transport infrastructure in the inhospitable terrains of these states. Dr Ghosh disclosed
another major finding- a significant percentage of the inward remittances to the SBI were from
states having high women literacy rates, along with the probability of more women
withdrawing cash from their accounts as compared to men. This may be an indicator of
independent decision making. Dr Ghosh summed up by emphasizing on the need for
strengthening this trend by targeting states with higher literacy rates for more Mudra loans, and
also creating a database of women entrepreneurs across states, engaged in similar activities.

Dr Priya Nanda, Group Director, Social and Economic Development, International Centre for
Research on Women, Asia Regional Office, raised the question of how to empower women so
that they are more resourceful to the family and society. According to her empowerment is a
versatile concept, which has been sometimes used by neoliberal thinkers to promote
disengagement of the government, and thus, raised the question of how to link empowerment
with the provision of public services. Dr Nanda insisted on the difference between improving
the access of women to market-based solutions and the actual creation of social transformation.
She begged to differ with the other speakers on considering a small rise in improvement of
women’s conditions as a good achievement. She said that women are always burdened with
drudgery and the low cost solutions further aggravate the situation. As a solution, she
demanded that the value chain must work for women more than it should for men and hence a
top-down approach must be adopted.
The final panelist for the evening was Ms Prabhjot R Khan, Social Development Officer
(Gender), Asian Development Bank, India Resident Mission. She talked about the various steps
taken by ADB in including gender in its initiatives. She said that the ADB is moving towards
gender equality and social inclusion.

Concluding Remarks
The Workshop concluded with remarks by Mr Debajit Palit, who summed up the crucial points
that emerged during the workshop, followed by a thank you note for all the participants.

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Acknowledgements
This workshop was organized as part of the on-going interdisciplinary research project -
“Exploring Factors that Enhance and restrict Women’s Empowerment through Electrification
(EFEWEE)”. This research is undertaken by TERI with University of Oslo, Seacrester Consulting,
Kenya and Dunamai Energy, Malawi. The research project is one of the five research areas under
the ENERGIA Gender and Energy Research Programme Framework, a Five-Year Sub-
Programme on "Gender and Sustainable Energy for All", supported by the DFID.

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