Financing Energy Access For Gender Equality
Ifeoma Malo*, Ifechi Anikwe*, and Salma Adam*
Adequate financing is required for development to reach people in all parts of the world and for world leaders’ commitments to be translated into action. Financing for gender equality is the means to ensure that women’s needs are met at all stages of development planning, and targeted initiatives are particularly required for investments to benefit everyone equally.
Women are inordinately affected by lack of access to modern energy services. Yet gender-centric energy access projects in developing countries remain scarce and typically are embedded as a capacity-building or awareness component in access programs. In developing countries, women and girls are too often associated with roles as caregivers and energy providers for their households and communities. This role forces them to bear the brunt of the effects of sourcing and utilizing fuelwood as an energy source, such as increased risks of respiratory disease, cancer and heart disease. Imbalanced gender roles have consequences for the most fundamental elements of self-determination, dignity, and freedom, which then in turn impacts financial inclusion.
Outside the home, women contribute more than their fair share to the economic growth of communities and countries. Africa has the highest proportion of female-owned businesses of any continent, but these women are frequently excluded from financial markets.
The agenda of women’s rights and gender equality requires strong actors and commitments from all stakeholders, given the need for a comprehensive approach to address the complex and interwoven nature of women’s rights violations and issues such as violence against women, the feminization of poverty, non-representation in decision-making, illiteracy, and discrimination.
As the world looks to find alternative clean sources of energy, promoting gender-centric access to energy would prove crucial for economic growth. There is a lot of evidence that gender mainstreaming in the energy sector strengthens empowerment efforts, improves health and air conditions and reduces poverty in developing countries. If a project wants to be thriving and successful in a local community, it should not be designed and evaluated in a gender-neutral way, but rather it must pay attention to these groups that have been traditionally marginalized and excluded from decision-making and project design processes. How could gender-centric access projects become the main focus of an initiative? How do we encourage the financing of mainstream gender-centric energy access projects?
Tracking and Monitoring
It is critical that funders direct sufficient financial resources and human expertise to ensure project managers and other project personnel have the capacity to accurately report against gender equality markers. An improved tracking methodology for gender equity impacts will undoubtedly provide a boost of confidence to a variety of granting organizations.
In developing an improved tracking methodology, there needs to be immediate action from a wider mix of organizations to support gender-focused energy access initiatives. Such actions may include identifying and consulting with women’s groups, associations or stakeholders concerned with gender issues to aggregate necessary data and information to help draft gender inclusive policies and laws. It can also involve the development of gender-specific targets and/or sex-disaggregated indicators that measure performance and impact, as well as identifying gender-related risks or adverse impacts and providing measures to avoid or minimize them.
To implement mainstream gender-centric access projects, emphasis has to be placed on preparing terms of reference (e.g. scope, stakeholder involvement, team members, accountabilities, responsibilities, deliverables). The ToR should include specific questions for gender assessments with responsibilities for assessing gender results clearly designated.
To enable gender-centric focused energy initiatives, evidence such as gender-disaggregated data and analysis, is required to support a gender-responsive global and national energy sector. Gender analysis provides the necessary data and information to integrate a gender perspective into policies, programmes and projects. It identifies differences between and among women and men in terms of their relative position in society and the distribution of resources, prospects, restrictions, and power in a particular context as a preliminary step for gender mainstreaming. Conducting a gender analysis in this manner allows for the creation of programs that address gender inequalities while also meeting the varied needs of men and women.
Tools, methods and gender equality indicators are identified by delivery partners and used to collect and analyse gender-disaggregated data and information (from both the desk review and field visit). The interviewed sample is representative of the target groups (e.g. sex, age, ethnicity, race and socio-economic groups). This data, alongside appropriate time and resources, must be allocated to assess gender equality results needed to mainstream energy projects by donors and government agencies.
In the creation of policies and programs, it is imperative to make gender budgeting mandatory. Gender budgeting is an application of gender mainstreaming in the budgetary process, and it is a gender-based assessment of budgets, incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process. It also involves restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality. Gender budgeting for new policies and programs involves auditing the extent to which gender equality is integrated into plans by different stakeholders.
This concept examines the budget of a country to see how it affects women and men, girls and boys. A vital tool to aid in analyzing how a country raises revenue and spends money to see whether it promotes gender equality or increases inequality. Once an analysis is complete, it paints a clear picture of how a government should structure spending and taxation in ways that advance gender equality and close the pay gap.
Gender budgeting, if mandatory at the federal government level, is important because budgetary decisions on both revenue and expenditure are made at this level. At the same time, state and local governments’ proximity to people means there is potential to respond more directly to women’s and men’s needs when it comes to public policy and service delivery. At these levels, there is great potential to use participatory gender budgeting approaches involving the local population.
Analyzing the impact of budgets on women and men, it is important to monitor how the budget is working towards meeting gender equality goals in a country. If it is voluntary, there might not be much checks and balances on the programs and policies. Gender budgeting can contribute to increasing participation in the budget process and thereby also increase transparency. Applying this approach to budgeting can also improve the economic prospects of Nigeria when fiscal policies and administrative procedures are structured to address gender inequality.
However, the acceptability of gender budgeting would likely differ from region to region. West Africa generally is the most male-dominated region in Africa both in politics (including legislatures) and employment. Gender budgeting is seen to be more accepted by political and bureaucratic elites in Southern and Eastern Africa. Two countries that have achieved notable success in their efforts are Uganda and Rwanda, both of which have integrated gender-oriented goals into budget policies, programs, and processes in fundamental ways. Efforts by both countries to incorporate gender equity into sectoral programs and policies seem to have accelerated progress on education and health programs for women.
The landscape of funding sources for gender equality and women’s empowerment must be altered because the financial services industry can be both a driver and a good indicator of gender equality.
*Ifeoma Malo is Founder and CEO — Clean Technology Hub
*Ifechi Anikwe is a Junior Associate, Climate change and Environment at Clean Technology Hub
*Salma Adam is a Junior Associate, Knowledge Management at Clean Technology Hub