Fig.1 The use of wood is not without consequence. The first victim is the housewife (Photo: PREDAS BP 54)
In the south women still carry out most of the cooking and household chores related to cooking (Fig.1). It has been shown through surveys that women are more amenable to adopting energy efficient technologies especially if the technologies can assist to reduce labour intensive household chores (ENERGIA et al). However, in a male headed household despite being the primary users of the technology, women have little or no influence on the type of energy or scheme of payment for that energy. This demonstrates that GenderIssues
in the household energy sector is prevalent and requires greater attention in order to achieve MDG 3 to promote gender equality and empower women. This is a key focus of the UNDP targets to halve poverty by 2015.
Despite this being a key focus of the UNDP targets there is still widespread energy poverty.1.6 million people are dying each year due to household energy problems, where 59% of all indoor pollution-attributed deaths fall on females (WHO 2002). HouseholdEnergyAndGender
problems exist and strategies to prioritise gender issues alongside household energy is necessary in order to achieve the desired output (Cecelski, 2004).
Fig.2 Mrs Akhaye Harouna of Midekhine village in Chad prepares bundles of wood. (Photo: PREDAS, BP 54)
Access to education is crucial to the empowerment of women, however this can only be achieved by providing alternative technologies to prevent the long hours spent collecting wood (Fig.2) and water to meet their families basic needs (OECD, 2002). 65% of women collect firewood and 71% store it, whilst for men this is only 5% and 3% respectively. Collecting firewood not only takes up the majority of women's time but also puts them in dangerous and very risky situations. Alternative household energy solutions will allow women the opportunity to see to other tasks and even give them the opportunity to access an education as their time will not be spent collecting wood all day. Women's organisations and women's roles in societies are starting to address some of these gender needs One example is the MacuataWomensAssociation
- ENERGIA, EAETDN and BOTEC, Gender, Energy Poverty and Sustainable Development, Download PDF here
- Cecelski, E (2004) Re-thinking gender and energy: Old and new directions, Energy, Environment and Development (EED), ENERGIA/EASE Discussion Paper
- OECD, Gender Equality in Sector Wide Approaches, Development Assistance Committee, 2002