Gender experts from the Ecowas member states have concluded at the Third regional off grid electrification conference that universal energy goals are unlikely to be met unless energy policies account for women’s specific energy needs.
This was disclosed by a representative from Netherlands based NGO Energia, Ms. Suma Dutta at the Third ROGEP conference held in Lome Togo.
Ms. Dutta argued that men and women have different energy needs, while gender-neutral projects often reflect and reinforce gender roles in society.
She pointed out that achieving gender equality requires a transformation in energy policy as well as changes within energy sector organisations.
Ms. Dutta said that the involvement of women in energy supply chain is good for business as well as their families and communities.
Ms. Dutta also said that modern energy services for women’s productive uses contribute to women’s empowerment noting that Women are involved in businesses that require more fuels.
She therefore recommended that ROGEP should engage both women and men in the design, implementation, and M&E of energy policies and programs as well as align project interventions with national policies.
She also called on ROGEP to support women’s businesses in renewable energy by working towards overcoming structural barriers that create bias against women within policy, enabling fiscal policies for off-grid clean energy products, Industry standards and certification of products as well as improved ease of doing business for women about registration.
On the issue of entrepreneurship financing support, Ms. Dutta underscored the importance of access to finance which she said must be accompanied by a combination of other measures such as legal, regulatory and socio-cultural norms, provision of complementary services as well as innovative models that take into account the cultural context by actively linking entrepreneurs with financial institutions.
On the issue of barrier removal for Challenging Markets, Ms. Dutta told delegates that women’s enterprises provide a ready springboard for energy access interventions.
She also said that women and their networks are well positioned to reach out to the poor and the difficult to reach markets.