African governments must prioritize affirmative action to achieve gender parity in the provision of clean energy technologies that are key to boost the continent’s ability to withstand climatic shocks, experts said at a forum in Nairobi on Wednesday.
The experts and policymakers who spoke at a clean cooking forum underway in Nairobi said that robust interventions are required to ensure that African women had adequate access to renewable energy sources. The Ministry of Energy of Kenya in conjunction with Clean Cooking Alliance organized the two days Clean Cooking Forum.
Harriet Lamb, chief executive officer of Ashden, a British charity that promotes green energy innovations, said that eliminating gender disparity in the provision of clean and modern sources of energy is key to attain inclusive growth in Africa.
“Structural inequalities and poverty have prevented women in Africa from benefitting from clean energy solutions. There is an urgent need to put African rural women at the heart of clean energy policies,” said Lamb.
A new study carried out by Ashden that was launched on the sidelines of the forum indicated that African women are yet to gain optimally from investments in renewable energy projects.
The study that was carried out in Tanzania from 2017 and 2019 and involved 1,260 households, revealed that patriarchy combined with poverty was to blame for negligible participation of women in clean energy value chains.
Policymakers said the study was a wakeup call for African governments to enact policies that aim to promote equitable sharing of benefits accrued from renewable energy projects across the gender divide.
Sheila Oparaocha, program manager of International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy, ENERGIA, said that women should be at the center of conceptualization and implementation of clean energy projects in order to realize long-term benefits for communities.
“The policies must be gender-responsive to ensure that women are not sidelined in the clean energy value chains that have so far been dominated by men due to cultural and socio-economic factors,” said Oparaocha.
She said the eastern African region has been a trailblazer in clean energy investments but required a policy shift and sensitization to ensure benefits are felt by rural women.
Phoebe Makungu, assistant director for gender and development in the Ministry of Energy said that targeted investments, policy reforms and capacity building is key to ensure that women reap optimally from clean energy projects. Enditem.