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The role of women in sustainable energy development

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E. Cecelski
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This paper reviews the literature on women’s involvement in renewable energy and presents some examples of the impact of including or excluding women in renewable energy development. It addresses four key questions: Why do women need renewable energy? Are women really interested in renewable energy technologies (RETs)? Will women automatically benefit from RETs? Why is a gender perspective relevant in the energy sector?It argues that actual experience in involving women in renewable energy activities has been fairly limited and anecdotal to date. This is partly due to an assumption that women are not capable of building and operating sophisticated technologies. Yet women are the main users of household energy in developing and industrial countries; they influence or make many family purchases related to energy; they are experienced entrepreneurs in energy-related enterprises; and women’s organisations are effective promoters of new technologies and active lobbyists for environmentally-friendly energy sources.As such, the paper concludes that women are the mainstream users and often producers of energy, and without their involvement renewable energy projects risk being ineffective. Recommendations for future progress are outlined. For example, the disaggregation of data by gender as standard practice in all renewable projects would offer immediate practical insights to those directly involved in implementation, and also in monitoring of impacts and benefits.Summary written in collaboration with BRIDGE and Siyanda