While energy research is increasingly opening up to social scientific research that addresses end-user engagement, equity and distributional issues, for example in relation to more participatory approaches, the particular question of how gender imbalances are institutionalized and reproduced over time has not received research attention so far.1

Improving women’s access to sustainable energy and empowering women to become energy entrepreneurs

Today, about 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and 2.9 billion use solid biomass for cooking and heating. Based on current trends, it will take until 2080 to achieve universal access to electricity, and the mid-22nd century for access to clean energy for cooking.

Women’s voice and participation have been largely absent in energy policies. Yet women bear the disproportionate burden of energy poverty. Their health and safety are at risk from household air pollution, carrying heavy fuel loads, and lack of lighting – undermining women’s social and economic rights, including rights to education and paid employment.

But women are also powerful agents of change. In many countries, they are the primary household managers of domestic and productive energy. As entrepreneurs women have enormous potential to create networks in rural and in urban areas that increase the availability of energy services and technologies while lowering costs to consumers.

This potential is vastly under-utilized. Removing barriers to equal opportunities and outcomes for women workers, producers, and entrepreneurs in sustainable energy is necessary for achieving universal access to modern energy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Source: UN WOMEN & UNEP (2015). Women’s Sustainable Energy Entrepreneurship and Access. Flagship Programme.


  • 1. Source: H2020-AG-GENDER (2015), p. 6