Webinar on "What does women's empowerment mean in the quest for universal electricity access?"
How has 'empowerment' been conceptualized in studies of electricity's gendered impacts? Why has there been a divide between established notions of empowerment (i.e. women's political, social and economic empowerment) on the one hand and, on the other, gender goals in energy interventions and adhering research, which tend to focus on electricity's impact on welfare indicators? In order to answer these questions a webinar was organized by the international research project, EFEWEE, on 26 September, 2017 with the aim to discuss how a more coherent understanding of women's empowerment in the realm of electricity could help governments, donors, NGOs and local communities achieve multiple goals through increased provision of electricity access (through grid, off-grid and stand-alone systems).
For example, how could a refined understanding of empowerment help tap the potential for producing more gender equality through electricity interventions? How could the proposed concept of empowerment (and adhering measures within policy, programs and projects) enhance the systems for the provision and maintenance of access? Which bottlenecks (gender equality/equity and more reliable access) can be overcome through electricity interventions alone and which depend on policies and practices in other sectors?
The webinar started with Dr Tanja Winther, EFEWEE Project Lead proposing a framework for analysis that seeks to bridge various perspectives, arrive at clear definitions of empowerment and its dimensions - and thus help accumulate knowledge in this field. To illustrate the application of the framework, Dr Magi Matinga, Energy Anthropologist and key member of the EFEWEE Project presented some key observations from the qualitative field work in India, Nepal and Kenya. Thereafter the two discussants made their observations on the presentations and suggested how the research framework can be strengthened. The webinar was joined by more than 95 participants from different countries.