Powering Equality

Accelerating gender equality and women’s economic empowerment through clean energy investments in Africa

July 24, 2023

In Ethiopia, access to energy is a binding constraint with a strong gender dimension. Lack of access to energy affects women’s well-being and economic opportunities. In many rural communities, the collection of firewood is the sole responsibility of women and girls. The design and implementation of projects focused on energy access fail to match the needs of the women, treating them often as beneficiaries rather than active agents of change. They rarely involve women in big decisions relating to energy policy, on energy security, on reform of the sector. 

Powering Equality project is supporting UNDP Ethiopia address these issues. It seeks to strengthen gender-responsive energy governance, enhancing policy frameworks that accelerate gender equality and promoting women’s economic empowerment. With the funding from the Powering Equality Global Project, the CO will, through this project seek to integrate gender equality in energy policy frameworks and facilitate their implementation, strengthen the capacity of women machineries to have influence on energy governance, and empower women economically through gender responsive energy markets. In addition, the project will support actions to enhance women’s participation in the production and distribution of rural energy technologies in recognition of the fact that women are the primary energy managers in Ethiopia and are commonly responsible for providing lighting, heating and cooking in households.

The project aligns with UNDP Ethiopia’s priorities as articulated in the Country Programme Document (CPD) covering the period 2020-2025 which prioritizes investments on promoting access to renewable, affordable and clean energy as a major catalyst for the transition to a jobs-rich green economy, ensuring that women and female-headed households benefit from this investment. In achieving this, the CO is working at three levels - policy analysis, advocacy and advisory services – and includes efforts to de-risk and create an enabling environment for the emergence of a market at scale for renewable energy services. It is also working to prototype gender friendly business models and technologies with private sector participation and the design and roll-out of bankable projects to crowd-in investment. 

The project will contribute to and benefit from similar ongoing initiatives such as the African Mini grid Programme and Trilateral co-operation projects whose objectives are to improve access to energy especially for the poor, thus help tackle energy poverty, which is a world-wide problem. Implementing the Powering Equality Project adds a strong gender dimension that will help the CO achieve gender equality outcomes. 

The project is made possible through the GEWE Funding Window with support from Republic of Korea and Luxembourg

**This article is written by Cleophas Torori, Deputy Resident Representative (Programmes) and Nebyu Mehary, Portfolio Management Specialist.