Empowering all: Gender in policy and implementation for achieving transitions to sustainable energy

Synopsis

The Gender & Energy Annex will gather researchers from the fields of gender and energy in a global network to analyse energy policy and technologies from gender perspectives and provide recommendations for policy design and implementation.

Introduction

Annex Operating Agent, Anna Åberg from Chalmers University explains more about the forthcoming work of the Annex.

“The role of gender in energy systems has been undervalued in the past. Yet, research has shown that norms and practices linked to gender have an impact on the development of policies, user systems and energy technologies, and that this can lead to the implementation of inefficient and excluding energy solutions. One central issue is that, often energy policies and technologies are assumed to be gender neutral when, in fact, they are gender blind. This means that they neglect the differential impacts on genders as well as socio-economic and cultural groups. Consequently, policies and technologies are less effective and may have unintended effects, hindering transitions to more sustainable energy systems.The aim of this international collaboration is thus to apply gender perspectives to support the participating countries in their work to design a more efficient and inclusive energy system, and through this also support ongoing efforts to foster energy transitions. This is particularly pressing now, as countries develop measures to mitigate the social and economic costs of the current COVID-19 crisis.

Although the assumed gender neutrality of energy policy and energy institutions has been questioned by researchers over several decades, the problems of gender-blind energy policies persist. In addition, social science research on user adaption of energy technologies, including gender research, is often ignored when designing new energy interventions. This new international collaboration sets out to bridge this gap between research and practice.

We will do this by carrying out comparative studies between the participating countries starting from three main questions: What research has already been done in the area, and what “best practices” can we learn from that research? What cultural and material barriers exist within today’s energy institutions that hinder the formulation and implementation of inclusive and gender-aware policies and technologies? How can we use gender perspectives when designing energy technologies and user solutions to ensure they are inclusive and effective? In addition to case studies and research overviews, we will publish educational materials, design new evaluation methods, and develop models and prototypes for new technology and user support. We also plan to organise workshops together with stakeholders in the energy policy and industry communities, to find ways to solve the problems that are identified during the course of the project.”

The work is being led by Sweden, who initiated the Annex and will be supporting Anna and her colleagues at Chalmers University in their role as Annex Operating Agent. The Netherlands will take on leadership of part of the work (a “subtask”) and play a central role in the Annex too. Scholars from the United States and Australia are ready to join the Annex, while Ireland and Austria are planning to finalise participation by early autumn. We are also in discussion with researchers from other TCP members in Canada, India, UK, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

We aim to make the international collaboration as broad as possible, so please get in touch if you are interested!  Email Anna at userstcp.gender@chalmers.se

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