Energy for Women and Women for Energy (Engendering Energy and Empowering Women)


Batliwala, Srilatha, and Amulya K. N. Reddy. 2003. “Energy for Women and Women for Energy (Engendering Energy and Empowering Women).” Energy for Sustainable Development 7 (3): 33–43.

Authors: Srilatha Batliwala, Amulya K. N. Reddy


The women-energy nexus involves the challenge of engendering energy and the  challenge of empowering women through energy. The first challenge arises from the gender disaggregation of energy consumption patterns. A quantitative account of the  share of women in these patterns is presented through a description of the rural energy  consumption pattern of the village of Pura in South India. The results indicate that  women work more hours than men. Women also perform the back-breaking tasks and  are displaced by agricultural mechanisation. The energy output-input imbalance is  aggravated by the fact that, in developing countries, women traditionally eat last and  least in a family—women therefore take in less food energy than men. The gender  distribution of labour results in negative health impacts. The scarcity of energy services in rural areas has serious social and gender impacts. Tackling them requires energy  interventions to improve the quality of life for women. Examples of such energy  interventions are the community biogas plant at the village of Pura and the multi- purpose platforms of the Mali project.

Since technological opportunities exist for such energy interventions, attention is turned to the second challenge of empowering women through energy entrepreneurship. This requires a change of mind-set on the part of energy planners and activists -- they must promote the notion of women as managers and entrepreneurs, and not just beneficiaries, of improved energy services. The idea is to push the following sequence: women as deprived in energy consumption patterns → women as beneficiaries of energy interventions → women as managers of enterprises → women as energy entrepreneurs. This is nothing short of a paradigm shift—but once achieved and implemented, the results will speak for themselves. Such an approach will engender energy by converting it into a force for improving the quality of life as well as enhancing productive capacities—a virtuous circle of energy for women and women for energy. (Summary from original source)

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Infrastructure, Energy, Livelihoods Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2003

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