Mainstreaming gender in the SADC renewable energy sector

Southern Africa is undergoing a crippling power shortage, which was first detected as early as 1999, forcing most countries to implement demand-side management programmes such as load shedding.

While load shedding has succeeded in restraining the overall electricity demand in the region, the measure has also affected socio-economic growth since the availability of energy is one of the key enablers of sustainable development and is essential to the industrialization agenda.

Constituting more than half the population of most SADC member states, women are disproportionately affected by the challenges associated with access to modern sources of energy compared to men.

Access to energy is gendered, with women in most countries in the region experiencing energy poverty differently and more severely than men.

Women and girls are, to a large extent, responsible for household and community activities, including energy provision in most SADC countries.

While acknowledging that the energy challenges SADC is grappling with do not occur in isolation and that they are anchored within the broader development context, renewable energy (RE) services present many opportunities to facilitate the lifting of the population out of poverty, especially if targeted at women given their strategic role in society.

To promote the benefits of renewable energy as well as gender mainstreaming in the sector, the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) is, therefore, implementing a project on Mainstreaming Gender in the SADC Renewable Energy Sector.

The project aims to encourage SADC countries to create conditions that promote gender mainstreaming in the RE sector.

It involves not only knowledge dissemination, but also promotion of changes in attitudes and behaviour, including a sense of commitment to the various regional and international policies and treaties to which SADC Member States are parties. The project will aim to:

  • provide coordination of regional action and priorities for gender mainstreaming in the RE sector;
  • provide southern Africa with an integrated approach to RE;
  • strengthen links between various institutions involved with RE in the region, thereby avoiding a duplication of efforts;
  • enhance the involvement of women and men in knowledge and technological transfers in the region;
  • build capacity within the region in RE as a sector that could generate employment for both women and men; and
  • collate and disseminate RE success stories.

SARDC, which is a knowledge partner of the SADC Energy Thematic Group (ETG) tasked with raising regional awareness among stakeholders in southern Africa about key energy issues in the region, will work closely with the SADC Gender Unit and SADC Energy Division in implementing the project.

Other key partners will include the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the soon-to-be-launched SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE).

SAPP is a regional body that coordinates the planning, generation and transmission of electricity on behalf of member state utilities in southern Africa.

SACREEE’s main objective is to spearhead the promotion of renewable energy development in the SADC region

The project is supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). Austria is the lead International Cooperating Partner for the SADC energy sector tasked with assisting SADC in facilitating coordination of energy development in the region. SADC Today