Gender innovation in energy access is an area that has not been looked into much. Because of this, Hivos/ENERGIA, EnDev and MECS decided to establish the Gender and Energy Innovation Facility (GEIF). The Facility aims to promote new, gender-inclusive ideas that help with the challenges of scaling up energy access.
Energy access is essential for meeting basic human needs. It also helps reduce poverty, safeguard health, and allow people to follow educational and economic opportunities. Worldwide there are 789 million people who do not have access to electricity. Also, 2.8 billion people do not have access to clean cooking solutions. A lot still needs to be done to guarantee universal energy access for all.
In order to accelerate progress for universal access to energy, Energising Development (EnDev) is increasingly investing in innovation in line with the new EnDev Strategy for 2019 to 2021 and beyond. For example, EnDev is currently supporting four energy and innovation projects on cooking facilities in schools on Madagascar, recycling of solar products in Mali, swarm electrification for solar rickshaws in Bangladesh and kits of appliances for new businesses in Mozambique. EnDev is also using innovation in humanitarian settings, including with the Smart Communities Coalition Innovation Fund and by managing a Humanitarian Accelerator Programme with the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation. The newly launched Gender and Energy Innovation Facility with Hivos/ENERGIA and MECS is the latest addition to this set of innovation activities.
The Facility has a double purpose. Aside from encouraging innovation to advance Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7 on universal access to energy, the Facility also wants to improve on gender equality (SDG 5). To do this, the Facility will look at women’s and men’s specific needs for modern and clean energy services and products. Women often face challenges in energy access and modern cooking. This limits their potential to generate (more) income and scale up existing clean energy businesses. It also reduces their ability to speak up for their independence and rights. For women to reach their economic potential, the system needs to change to allow equal female and male participation and development. Innovation could be a way forward.