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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Gender Implications of Energy Use and Energy Access


The article reviews and consolidates both theory and findings on the gender consequences of energy access in the Global South. The literature shows that women across the Global South have far greater responsibility than men for the work involved in producing essential home energy services such as light and heat, cooking, and cleaning. The most significant impact of electrification is that it enables better time management by women and the reduction of physical work (drudgery). There is evidence from a number of settings that the time saved can be used by women to study, take on salaried work and start new small businesses, and that these benefits can be facilitated by including women in energy governance and planning. A point that is often missed, underestimated or misunderstood from a North American/European perspective is that gendered ideologies and practices in the Global South are deeply anchored in family and kin relations. The joint family is an entity and network through which money, assets and commodities move, creating obligations which are important to understanding the interaction of gender relations and energy access.

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