The Asia LEDS Partnership and LEDS Global Partnership Energy Working Group hosted a webinar on “,” on June 2, 2016, the third in a webinar series on “Innovative Tools for Advancing Low-Emission and Climate-Resilient Energy Planning in Asia.” Ms. Ana Rojas, of the Global Gender Office at International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Ms. Soma Dutta of ENERGIA gave an overview of why gender mainstreaming is important to achieve low-emission development and how it could be integrated into various projects. Mr. Francesco Tornieri, Principal Social Development Specialist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), demonstrated how women in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh used energy as an instrument for enhancing their lives and livelihoods.
What is gender mainstreaming?
The United Nations Economic and Social Council suggests that ‘gender mainstreaming’ refers to the “process of assessing the implications for men and women of any planned actions, including legislation, policies, and programmes, in all areas and at all levels… so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.” In the context of mainstreaming gender into energy, networks such as ENERGIA seek to ensure that both women and men have equal and equitable access to and control over sustainable energy services as an essential right to development.
The gender mainstreaming process includes assessing the implications of every project on men and women beneficiaries; agreeing to what a project wants to achieve from a gender perspective; designing activities on how gender goals can be met; and building consensus among stakeholders on the approach, along with developing a gender-sensitive monitoring strategy.
Empowering women socially and economically – in areas such as employment and entrepreneurship, supply chains and financing, capacity and skills building, and communications and monitoring – can help achieve mainstreaming and increase the effectiveness of energy projects.
Enhancing energy-based livelihoods for women in Madhya Pradesh
The Madhya Pradesh Energy Efficiency Improvement Investment Program (2011) is an ADB-financed facility aimed at enabling power distribution companies to supply quality 24-hour power supply to rural households by improving operational efficiency of electricity distribution in rural areas of Madhya Pradesh, benefiting 1.4 million households. Technical assistance was provided towards optimizing energy-related benefits for women self-help groups (SHGs) and micro entrepreneurs, in the form of training on gender inclusive energy services, business development, and efficient use of electricity for businesses.
Following an evidence-based approach, the program conducted a needs assessment survey of 1,000 women-headed micro-enterprises and developed an inclusive Gender Action Plan. It partnered with NGOs to mobilize women entrepreneurs and select trainees from among women SHGs, and developed training modules and materials informed by gender concerns and appropriate for target learners, with gender indicators as part of monitoring.
Among the program’s key results:
• Over 20,000 home-based women micro-entrepreneurs were trained to gain access to energy-based income-generating business opportunities;
• Over 500 women trained as business development services providers;
• Over 500 women trained as gender and energy trainers;
• Improved access to financial services (e.g., credit, insurance);
• Improved access to productive assets (e.g., motorized pottery wheel, sewing machine), reducing time spent on their enterprises and freeing more time for other activities; and
• Over 590 women upgraded their enterprise or started new enterprises.
The interests showed by state ministries were also key to these efforts, enabling linkages with government schemes and programs. The impact of the project is now being assessed on four parameters: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability.
Introducing gender mainstreaming objectives and activities in the project design phase and asserting how it can add to project effectiveness is extremely important. Further endorsement of senior management of involved groups is critical.
Experience shows that when the gender mainstreaming process is led by a local team (rather than an external consultant or gender specialist), the effort is more likely to success and be sustained.
Availability of financing for women is a challenge that needs attention. In many countries, there are no considerable ways to address collateral needs of women or to provide appropriate banking options. In Madhya Pradesh, the role of funders in making money available as loans and grants to complement program goals was crucial to program success.
Learn more about the LEDS GP Energy Working Group