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• Based on experiences gained from ◆ This brief meeting report was kindly 1

Held in March 2000, in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was

participating in the preparatory process contributed by: Martha Mathenge, Energy instrumental in establishing a gender and energy network in Africa.
leading up to WSSD, there was a Programme, ITDG-EA, P.O. Box 39493,
presentation on Type 2 partnerships, that Nairobi, Kenya; Tel: +254.(0)2.713
are expected to form part of the outcome of 540/719 413, Fax: +254.(0)2.710 083,
WSSD, and a discussion on how ENERGIA Email:
could become involved in them. ■

Please tell us about yourself, and how you different seasons. In order to more accurately
4 came to choose Gender and Energy as your Meeting ENERGIA calculate working hours, I obtained the time
PhD topic? spent on extra activities apart from the
Members regular daily activities. I think the revised
ENERGIA News vol. 5 nr 2 • 2002

My basic degree is an MBA from Nepal; and I working hours provide a better indication of
also have an MSc in Regional Development the true working hours.
Planning and Management from AIT, It was also difficult to depict the gendered
Bangkok, following a Postgraduate Diploma base information (such as access to
on the same subject from the University of technology and resources, or household
Dortmund, Germany. head) on my social map as there was much
I have a rich experience of women and general information to cover in such a map
children, and gender and development, issues with scattered settlements within a village. I
from working with different government, had to analyse separately, in focused group
non-government, and international agencies discussions, gender access and control over
in Nepal. My major tasks have been assessing resources and technologies.
and developing feasible projects for women,
assessing the organisational capacity of Some people would argue that gender and
implementing units, assisting them in energy is not a pressing need for Nepal -
implementation and the monitoring and what is your comment?
evaluation of projects. My previous research Ishara Mahat
involved women and credit, women and Really, I completely disagree. It is very
child health, and small women’s enterprises. PhD Student in Gender and Energy important in my context, where more than
My experience with rural women indicated 80% of people living in rural areas depend
that they have very limited time for on biomass for their cooking needs, which is
economic, social and community activities, Interview by Khamarunga Banda, Minerals mostly managed by women. Rural Nepalese
though they were very sincere and active in and Energy Policy Centre, South Africa women in general, and mountain women in
saving and credit activities. Whenever I had a particular, are greatly involved in managing
meeting with women’s groups, they always the household energy system. Rural
had to rush saying: “I have to cook”, “I have It is a few months since I arrived back from mountain women still walk for four or five
to go to bring fodder/firewood”, and “I have doing fieldwork, and I am presently hours to collect firewood and wake up
to go to fetch water” etc. Their worries were analysing my field data. I think I am halfway around 4 a.m. to hull and grind grain.
concentrated around these topics. This towards my PhD. The major problems I faced With the growing attention from donors and
suggested that it would be worthwhile were finding enough literature on relevant the government to the rural energy sector,
focussing on Gender and Energy in my PhD issues, selecting appropriate tools for there is a great opportunity to reduce
research. analysing the issues, and organising the time women’s workload and improve their health.
with my research participants for interviews Further, women’s empowerment through
What motivated you to choose REDP sites and discussions during the fieldwork. rural energy-based enterprises has a large
for your PhD? With the present civil conflict in Nepal, I was potential for rural development of the
initially very nervous about carrying out my country, although this has yet to materialise. I
I chose REDP sites, since REDP had come up fieldwork. Once, I nearly lost my confidence thus feel gender and energy deserves
with a new paradigm (a holistic approach when I saw a truck carrying 16 dead bodies. attention in order to improve the quality of
with six basic principles: organisation I have been really lucky that I could continue rural Nepalese women’s lives and combat
development, capital formation, skill my work and collect information from the poverty.
enhancement, technology promotion, villages without facing any violence.
environment management, and women How did you find the status of gender and
empowerment) for ensuring sustainable rural The application of methodology and tools energy in Asia?
energy systems. I wanted to explore if REDP can vary in Gender and Energy research,
with its holistic approach is appropriately and most tools are biased towards plains. I think gender and energy is a hidden issue
contributing towards the challenges The treatment required in hill and mountain in Asia. I hear, read, and see, little on gender
(ownership, sustainability, and contexts may be very different. Share with and energy in our context. As elsewhere in
empowerment) that have always existed in us these challenges and how you overcame developing countries, gender roles in energy
the rural energy sector. More specifically, I them? production, management and utilisation,
wanted to examine how far REDP has been within and beyond the household, are still to
successful in terms of its gender focus within Yes, this is true. I used the activity profile as be recognised in an Asian context. There is
its decentralised energy planning framework. one tool for analysing the work burden of no gender-disaggregated information
women. However, it was not accurate in available in the energy sector to provide a
How is progress, and could you share with representing women’s workload and working strong base for developing gender indicators
us some of the problems you have hours. In the mid-hill area of my research, and applying the appropriate gender tools in
encountered so far? their activities vary significantly during see page 20 
added value to customers through quality product supply and The non-recovery from a few households was attributed to the
installation, and effective after-sales service. drinking habits of the men in these households.
• Lastly, although hard to directly quantify, one unexpected result of
After seeing the potential benefits of the proposed PV the project is that a large social problem –the drinking habits of the
lighting systems, the tribal people authorised the Society to supply men in the village– has decreased due to the ability to undertake
them with lighting systems and deduct the monthly instalments from productive activity during evening hours.
the basket sale proceeds. Don Bosco is already marketing the baskets
and has established a mechanism for collecting the instalments from Other Lessons Learnt
the sale proceeds.
• User perception of a project’s benefits is the driving force behind
20 Women’s Influence project success.
• Financing has to be appropriate for potential users’ needs and
When the project began, there were no special efforts made conditions.
ENERGIA News vol. 5 nr 2 • 2002

to involve women because the project initiators did not perceive of • Users should be involved in the pre-planning stage of a project.
any cultural barriers that would influence women’s and men’s • Economic benefits are essential for the commercialisation of PV
participation in the project. However, the women’s perceptions of the products.
benefits of the project differed from the men’s, and women’s • Appropriate uses of product/service delivery, financing and recovery,
leadership became the key factor in the project’s success. Women etc., induce trial purchases, and encourage early adoption of
speak out most strongly about the benefits, and they take on a products and large-scale use of renewable energy products. ■
leadership role in popularising the technology.
This article is reworked from IREDA NEWS, Vol.12, No.3, July-
In addition, women who do not presently own solar systems September 2001, Women in Renewable Energy Special, pp 71-73.
are influencing cost recovery through what project implementers call
the ‘social pressure’ factor. Non-owners believe that unless the existing
owners repay their loans, there will be no money in the fund to ◆ Anita Khuller has over nine years of international
finance additional systems. The women are applying this pressure experience in energy education, communications
very publicly because the benefits will most directly affect them. and training activities, in both private and non-profit
developmental organisations in India and Southeast
Preliminary Project Results Asia. She has edited and launched five prominent
newsletters on energy and environment in India, has
The project has clearly had social and economic impacts, written articles for several international and national
both expected and unexpected: publications, has prepared energy publications used extensively by
• The average household income has increased from Rs 900/month to public and private sector agencies worldwide, and has played a
Rs 1500/month. major role in developing two websites, one being the first ever on
• More women are putting their children into school. The women renewable energy in India, with USAID support. Anita has also
themselves pay the fees, which was never done before, indicating organised several participatory and action-oriented international
that the women have attained significant new financial training programmes, workshops, seminars, conferences, and
independence. exhibitions in a number of Asian countries.
• According to project follow-up reports, the women have “heaved a
sigh of relief” because the PV lights (equivalent to 40W ◆ For further information, please contact: Anita Khuller, Energy &
incandescent bulbs) have turned out to be an ideal solution to their Outreach Consultant, B-47 Regency Park I, DLF Phase IV,
children’s inability to study in the evenings. Gurgaon 122 002, Haryana, India;
• The village is experiencing better health conditions. Email:
• Most importantly, the ‘Solar Basket Fund’ beneficiaries are able to
pay monthly instalments of Rs 150 out of their increased income. The Bangalore Salesian Society was founded by Don Bosco and the members of this
The recovery rate in the initial three months of the project was 94%. congregation are called the Salesians of Don Bosco (sdb).

 from page 4 countries. These are the hard-hitting needs • Develop a strong institutional network of
project designs and plans. Energy plans and that should be targeted: gender and energy organisations that
policies are virtually gender-blind. A few • Create a gender disaggregated energy lobbies on gender and energy needs,
research and academic institutions such as database for developing gender indicators reviews, coordinates, monitors and
ICIMOD/Nepal and TERI/India, and donors in the energy sector and designing gender- evaluates the gender and energy activities
such as UNDP and the World Bank, have based energy plans and programmes. of different sectors, and documents
lately been advocating gender issues in the • Focus on research and development which information and case studies. ■
energy sector, but that has yet to be communicates and reveals the importance
institutionalised. There is a lack of of gender-based energy plans and
institutional networking to nurture the idea programmes both at macro and micro ◆ For more information, please contact:
of gender and energy. levels. Ishara Mahat, School of Global Studies,
• Strengthen the capacity of institutions by Institute of Development Studies,
What are the most pressing needs to increasing the awareness and knowledge of Private Bag 11-222, Massey University,
enhance gender and energy? experts in developing gender-oriented Palmerston North, New Zealand;
energy plans and policies, and the human Tel: +64.(0)6.356 9099, ext 2514,
Gender and energy issues are not much skills in using gender tools in energy Email:
different in Asia from other developing planning and programming.