Friends of the Earth Ghana has held a policy brief dissemination workshop to explore gender equity and energy access in Ghana.
It also sought to broaden national understanding of equitable energy access and its implications to national development.
The policy brief, which comes out of a research conducted in Ghana, seeks to identify the challenges that are perpetuating the lack of gender equity in the energy discourse in mostly rural communities and based on those observations make recommendations to support policy formulation and implementation.
The research also seeks to give evidence to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and other non-state actors interested in the energy discourse to support their advocacy.
In a statement during the workshop, the Programme Coordinator of Climate Change and Energy at Friends of the Earth Ghana, Mr. Amos Yesutanbul observed that “most of the time the gender discourse is not evident when we talk about energy policy formulation, and part of it is due to the perception that gender equity is not very significant in the context of energy.
“So we need to broaden that discourse so that people get to understand that the energy needs of women are very different from that of men, such that policy formulation and implementation don’t leave a particular group of people behind,” he said.
Mr. Yesutanbul informed that, mostly, the private sector still believed that energy was used equally by both genders and therefore there was no need to distinguish between the needs of men and women, “but when you go to the household level you will realize that the things women use energy for is different from what men use energy for.”
The Programme Coordinator therefore theorized that, at the household level, whilst men used energy for entertainment and other less harmful activities, women mostly used wood and charcoal for cooking which was injurious to their health, and therefore the need to approach energy policy with the mind to create equity in usage.
Again, Mr. Yesutanbul insisted that women were culturally not encouraged to go into energy related professions which created a gender imbalance in Ghanaian institutions and affected energy equity.
In that regard, the research recommended that local government structures needed to be equipped in identifying, communicating and addressing gender inequities energy access, ensure a balanced gender representation in government structures, create targeted energy financing for women, and develop target action to address spatial inequities.
It also recommended that, to ensure that remote island grids did not become outdated, careful consideration of how consumption may evolve over time was needed; there was also the need to make policy implementation data-driven and offer targeted support to women entrepreneurs.
Mr. Yesutanbul observed that the Ghana government had done a lot over the years to bridge the energy gap between rural and urban communities; “What is lacking is commitment on the part of government to ensure that renewable energy plays a critical role in ensuring that we met our energy needs in conforming with the Sustainable Development Goals in the energy sector.”
The research, was also conducted in India, Kenya and Pakistan, was partnered by institutions included Anglia Ruskin University, University of Cambridge, University of Management and Technology, Women in Energy, Pakistan, Leeds Beckett University, Wageningen University, School of Science and Technology (Pan-Atlantic University), the Energy and Resources Institute and Clean Technology Hub.