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Gender and Energy

When we talk about women, we think about the tasks that are socially assigned to them, such as their families’ reproduction role, and therefore their daily care in food, health; in other words, women are in charge of providing food security and family welfare in general.  That is the reality that is also present when we think the relationship with energy.

In rural areas, women are related to agricultural biodiversity, the supply of wood and water, classification of seeds, food preparation, agricultural work in all productive cycles, storage species, cultural practices (such as control of pests), breeding animals (especially minor species), sales in local markets, traditional medicine for the care of the family and in urban areas without well have been incorporated into the formal or informal labor sector, they have not ceased to be responsible for household chores , which means long working hours.  It is essential to have energy at affordable costs to be included these endeavors and daily tasks. This is not always recognized and valued by those who advise or prepare energy policies.

There are several gender inequalities that are exacerbated by other conditions such as social class, ethnicity or disability or sexual option, as we see in this data:

60% of the 1.4 billion people living in poverty worldwide are women.

Two thirds of the 960 million illiterates are women, and 70% from the 130 million who do not attend to school are girls.

Gender over time indicates that rural women should use 18 hours a day to commit to the tasks socially entrusted to them, compared with 12 men's work time. In urban areas, women work 15 hours and men work 10 hours.  This reflects a lack of time to access to education, training or rest.

According to the World Bank, men make on average 17% more income than women for the same type of work.  The biggest gap is in Brazil, where men make 30% more than women do.   Another inequality is the income directly related to poverty levels.  Afro-descendants and indigenous people make 28% less than mestizos.

Women produce 80% of food in Africa, 60% in Asia and 40% in America but own less than 1% of the land.

In the Andean Region, 18% of the household in rural areas are headed by women.

The ability to use any energy source has a different impact on men and women.  Women are the main users of energy, either by their different productive activities or their unpaid domestic work, but they are absent in sectors where decisions on energy resources are taken as they are considered to be a purely technical issue and gender neutral.

It is necessary that the energy sector understands the need to be sensitive to gender mainstreaming and its support in projects and policies that are produced in oil, electricity, renewable energy, etc.:, because very few women are involved in the energy sector in energy planning; and even fewer women are trained in gender mainstreaming so it is not common to talk about the needs of women.

Work should be also undertaken on regional statistics to provide us information on the gaps in access to energy resources.  These data are not available or are not seen as important for decision makers.  There is also an urgent need for training tools that include cases of Latin America and the Caribbean countries and provide women with modern technologies and energy resources to allow women to become economically independent and help them make decisions about their lives.  The energy policies initiated by countries are usually aimed to the supply of energy and not to the overall development cycle that can and must be attached to the power source; in other words, electricity, solar panel, or power plant's projects should promote productive projects by women in matters of credit, technical assistance; etc.; and thereby improving the living conditions of families and their struggle against poverty.

OLADE makes a bet and contribution to regional its regional endeavor by recognizing these gender differences in decision-making and overall development, therefore it has formulated a gender strategy whose main objective is:

To contribute to the development of an energy sector that meets the needs of countries in terms of reducing inequality gaps between men and women in access and control of energy resources necessary for development and sustainable livelihoods.

To achieve this we have identified 4 components, or strategic lines that should be addressed simultaneously and in a sustained manner:

  • HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT IN THE ENERGY SECTOR
  • MAINSTREAMING
  • RESEARCH AND GENERATION OF KNOWLEDGE
  • STRATEGIC ALLIANCES

The creation of the Network of experts on energy and Gender contributes to these strategic lines as it promotes the exchange of knowledge, debates and tools, developed on the subject in Latin America and the Caribbean and allow us to move forward together to improve gender analysis skills of the technical, political advisory staff within government sectors, civil society and cooperation related to the energy sector.