Empowering Women in Remote Villages through ACCESS Initiative

May 1, 2024

Local Operators on their training days in the targeted villages.


In rural areas, the primary responsibility for energy production, particularly for cooking and lighting, often falls on women and girls. Without access to modern energy facilities, women and girls rely on locally available biomass for cooking or kerosene lamps for lighting. These methods not only pose health risks due to indoor smoke but also restrict time for income-generating activities, education, and other self-development pursuits. The energy sources, even though high in demand, are still inaccessible and expensive to many in remote and vulnerable areas.

Additionally, among the rural poor, women-led households are considered more vulnerable because they have fewer income earners. The lack of income has caused these groups to have less access to energy, compared to other poor households.

Furthermore, besides the economic factor that hinders women from having equal access to energy for their future, there is also a notable underrepresentation of women in the field of renewable technology. STEM is a male-dominated sector, where fewer women and girls are involved actively, including in renewable technology. Furthermore, jobs in the energy sector are still not gender-balanced and do not accommodate women’s voices.

To address these gender-related energy access problems, UNDP works with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources through ACCESS project, funded by KOICA, to address the "energy inequality”. The goal is to ensure that poor households, especially those led by women, have access to and benefit from clean energy electricity facilities.

Space for women’s voice

ACCESS project has engaged facilitators for each of its target villages, and these facilitators have affirmatively engaged women groups since the initial stage of the project implementation. The initiative ensures that women's voices are heard at every stage of project implementation, including in planning and decision-making. For example, to determine the electricity tariffs of communal solar panel installation, the community leaders gathered women's feedback to identify productive activities, such as education at a household level, which use electricity.

As of the current date, women's participation in the initiative has remained consistent. In the initial project consultation, which involved 275 individuals, 32% were women from the villages. This pattern persisted in both the consultation on electricity tariffs and the subsequent socialization of the agreed-upon tariffs. During the tariff agreement discussions, 150 women participated out of 500 individuals (30%), and in the socialization process, 277 women were involved out of 814 people (34%).

Setting a target of 30% women operators

Initially, the project planned to involve women in the communities, with at least 30% of the local women operators receiving training and certification in solar-PV operation and maintenance. The training and certification process concluded in 2023. 23 women out of a total of 50 local operators were trained and certified, achieving a representation rate of 46%. The effort laid a foundation in the project’s target villages and must be continued in the future to ensure that women are involved in the energy sector.

Empowering Women in Local Renewable Energy Institutions

Selected operators from targeted villages take notes and practice about electricity theory during the training.


To ensure the long-term viability of the Solar PV infrastructure, local institutions in the villages have been prepared and strengthened. The project has formed a collaborative partnership with the village-owned enterprise (BUMDesa) to achieve this goal. Within the BUMDesa framework, the project takes the lead in initiating and supporting the establishment of a Renewable Energy Service company (Usaha Pelayanan Listrik Desa/ UPLD). The entire process places a significant emphasis on women's involvement and participation. As of December 2023, 124 individuals have been appointed and assigned as BUMDesa board members, with women constituting 32% of the total members. 

As for the UPLD officers, 43 individuals have been appointed, and women make up 49% of this group. Capacity-building initiatives have been implemented for both the BUMDesa and UPLD boards through collaborative efforts with project partners and counterparts.

Support to Women-Led Small Enterprises 

ACCESS has extended support to small enterprises led by women in the target villages to enhance their economic and business initiatives. Seed funding is allocated for these women-led businesses through BUMdesa. To ensure a structured distribution process, BUMdesa will implement a staged approach, anticipating the activation of the Solar PV electricity. A total of 27 Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) entrepreneurs are identified to receive this financial assistance. Out of these beneficiaries, 25 are women, and 2 are men, one of whom has a disability. Each MSME will receive financial assistance amounting to IDR 3 million. They operate businesses such as small shops, bakery, weaving, and brown sugar production. 

Edited by Enggi Dewanti and Wiryawan Nimpuno