Can renewable energies contribute to gender equity so that women and men benefit fairly from access to energy services? This paper argues that providing improved access to energy services for lighting, cooking and productive activities should alleviate time and work pressures for women. It should also have a significant positive effect on women’s education, literacy, nutrition, health, economic opportunities and involvement in community affairs, which, in turn, will benefit all family members. The paper notes how gender-aware approaches to energy use have moved beyond introducing low carbon stoves to discussions of a broader range of issues such as energy pricing and transport.The paper argues that women are key allies in promoting renewable energy solutions as well as having valuable knowledge of local circumstances and needs. However, it notes that providing renewable energy has its challenges. For example, various attempts have been made to introduce solar cookers in Kenya, but they have not been popular because they are seen to increase cooking time.The paper points out the need to provide a choice of technologies and to ensure they are affordable and relevant. It stresses the urgent need to improve information on the gender dimensions of the renewable energy sector in both the South and the North, including through the generation of gender-disaggregated data. It recommends that projects include gender-responsive tools at all stages in the planning cycle in order to improve the gender relevance and, therefore, the sustainability of renewable energy. It also calls for increased support for women’s organisations that play an advocacy and advisory role on gender and energy issues.
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