Gender & Energy Workshops
April 2nd & 3rd, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
Posted by Dr Ben Campbell, LCEDN Co-Coordinator.
The first day consisted in hearing from the members of the Gender and Energy Network India (GENI), and invited India government policy contributions. Discussions about research on India’s LPG and electrification policies led to lively exchanges over the impact for women, and the extent to which empowerment is attributable to labour-saving and cleaner energy per se, or whether household relationships between men and women are substantially altered by new norms of everyday practices and role allocation.
Reports were given from an impressive range of examples and contexts, where questions of entrepreneurial scaling up and blended finance were explored. The Indian Ujwala programme for LPG distribution received wide attention, especially in IRADe’s work in Chattisgarh state, where research methods are showing different class characteristics affecting longer term LPG adoption. MSSRF’s work shows important research that is able to configure vital questions over the extent to which women are ‘free’ to use technology, and what constitutes the enabling environment for women to do so. The issuing of LPG subsidy for connection in women’s names provides significant possibility for other kinds of assets also to come under women’s control. TERI’s work on the EFEWEE programme highlights the value in women taking part in decision making over electrification with SHS. Rather than reducing potential for empowerment to energy provison alone, the valuable suggestion was made that associated ‘sister policies’ may play key roles in women’s empowerment.
Further valuable perspectives came from policy commentators discussing assumptions about energy impact, when there are unmapped new needs in women’s lives consequent to climate change factors (e.g. having to “beat the heat” by working outside in the least severe times of day). It was pointed out by Aditi Kapoor that mainstreaming gender requires inputs at budget design stages, rather than subsequently.
Kirsten Campbell (Edinburgh University), who has been on an LCEDN facilitated internship with GENI since February, assisted the network in pulling together a number of areas where GENI could be more effectively focussed: in providing the evidence base of practices, in policy advocacy, and producing an annual ‘state of affairs’ review. ENERGIA members pointed out the value of the network’s convening power, and capacities for mutual learning. Questions arose about the necessary formal/informal qualities of the GENI network, who could be a member of GENI, and what categories of membership were reasonable, practicable and inclusive.
These discussions carried forward into the second day led by ENERGIA/LCEDN. The collaboration of these two organizations was noted to produce an affinity of purpose and enhanced amplification of the gender-energy nexus with replicable possibilities in different contexts. To this end, Jiska de Groot outlined the new landscape for skills and expertise in DFID’s TEA programme, with the audience eagerly anticipating ongoing support for the important research and practice outcomes already realized under the LCEDN-ENERGIA partnership. Looking ahead, with inspiring reports via skype from Rajasthan, Ajaitya Shah spoke of frontier markets, Pramita Ray on value for women, and Chikako Fujita on end user financing, stressing the need for better information training so that women are able to answer questions that come to them when advocating changes to the norm, especially ‘energy finance literacy’. The value of gaining inner understandings of micro-level decision-making was evident from the results of keeping energy diaries. GENI itself is benefiting from gathering all these perspectives and voices, and even over two days it was evident that people had arrived fresh to the network, because of word getting out that here were dialogues worth joining. A ringing message from the two days was the statement “Gender is not a subset of poverty”. The LCEDN promises to stay in this enriching conversation for the long term.
The next GENI meetings will be in April 26th (Chennai) and May 17/18th (Bangalore).