Women side-lined in national energy policy formulation – study

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

WHILE women are the primary users of energy, critical decisions in the sector are made without their active participation, a study has revealed.

According to the Youth and Women Participation in Green Energy feasibility study launched by Women Affairs Minister Sithembiso Nyoni at a local hotel Monday, there was systemic marginalisation of women in the sector.

“Much focus on gender in renewable energy has focused on addressing gender efforts at household levels, e.g. through improving women’s access to renewable energy and clean cook stoves, as well as enhancing women’s economic benefits and entrepreneurship,” the report said.

“Large-scale renewable energy as a topic, conversely, has received less attention from gender perspective than small-scale, off-grid renewable energy, and indeed still constitutes a distinct knowledge gap.

“Gender-related factors, however, inhibit women from meeting their specialised needs particularly their limited participation in green energy.

“Ironically, evidence abounds from gender studies shows that women participate more in other management structures at the community level than men.”

The report added, “In spite of this, important decisions in the Renewable Energy sector that have Renewable Energy projects at management level in various institutions in Zimbabwe shows that decisions-making spaces are an almost exclusive domain of men.

“It has been empirically observed in Zimbabwe, as indeed many other nations across the globe that women and girls play an essential role in ensuring the availability of firewood for primary use at the household level.”

However, due to ingrained patriarchal traditions and harmful cultural practices, women are often relegated to the periphery of energy management.

“Renewable Energy projects and programmes are often formulated without a clear understanding of the needs and rights of the feminine gender,” the report further stated.

“This does not augur well with the tenets of inclusive and participatory development stipulated in the country’s generally progressive constitution.”

The Feasibility Study was meant to build a detailed, and well informed knowledge base on the renewable energy  sector and create a nexus with gender sensitive responses as part of the inception phase.