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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Policy makers and scholars often assume gender to be irrelevant in energy politics. However, an increasing body of scholarship and development policies has focused on how gender discrimination has negative effects on women’s access to energy resources and equal contributions to decision-making processes that influence energy issues. This article evaluates four overarching and salient policy and research discourses that frame women’s and men’s positions in benefiting from and participating in decision-making about energy. First, energy has mainly been perceived as gender neutral, ignoring gendered outcomes of energy policies. Second, women have been presented as victims of energy poverty in the global South to instigate donors and action. Third, women’s empowerment in the global South has been presented as instrumental to increasing productivity and economic growth through access to modern sources and uses of energy. These discourses have produced narratives that provide limited imaginaries of women’s agency and relevance to the politics of energy in their lives. The fourth and less familiar discourse has presented women as rights holders of basic services, including access to modern and sustainable energy. This last discourse has provided a tool for examining the deeper unequal structures, as well as holding stakeholders in supply accountable for reproducing gender equality, needed to understand and produce relevant and socially just knowledge.

Keywords: gender, energy politics, energy access, electricity, cookstoves, development policy, energy justice

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