Uganda: Push for women’s access to energy will boost economic participation and gender equality

Uganda is implementing initiatives to enhance women’s access to clean energy in the form of energy-efficient cooking stoves and home lighting solutions, which will accelerate progress toward gender equality and increase women’s participation in the economy.

At a virtual workshop held on 23 February, Uganda’s Minister of State for Energy and Mineral Development Simon D’Ujanga said the ministry was pushing ahead with initiatives to expand women’s access to clean energy solutions and tackle gender violence.

The event, organised by the African Development Bank, Climate Investments Fund and the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA) marked the launch of a new Gender and Sustainable Energy country brief for Uganda. Participants also explored strategies to place gender equality at the centre of government policy reforms and implementation.

“The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has installed a committee on energy equality and statistics as part of efforts to achieve its mandate. Through the committee, the ministry is able to carry out the task of monitoring gender-based violence, affecting women, girls and children during the implementation of energy development projects in Uganda,” said D’Ujanga.

Beneficiaries of the energy initiatives are receiving energy-efficient cooking stoves that cut harmful emissions and eliminate the need to gather fuel such as firewood. The ministry is also working to enhance women’s business opportunities in the energy sector.

The Ugandan gender and energy sector country brief is intended to track these efforts to ensure that women and girls are able to access energy at reasonable prices and that opportunities in the sector are accessible to women.

Ugandan State Minister for Gender, Peace Regis Mutuuzo, said her ministry has supported the distribution of clean energy solutions and cooking stoves to nearly 146,000 beneficiaries, and continues to focus on strengthening cooperation with the energy ministry to ensure women’s effective participation in the economy.

“Access to clean energy solutions and energy for the household will improve access to home lighting,” Mutuuzo said, adding that thanks to such policies, Uganda was on track to meet UN Sustainable Development Goal 5, which concerns gender equality.

The Bank’s energy briefs present key data, an overview of the institutional set-ups and targets on gender and energy, and provide an analysis on barriers and opportunities.

“The Bank is addressing the collection of aggregated data to help in knowledge-based arguments. The discussions have enabled us to develop country-specific goals to be used to track the development of women,” said Augustine Ngafuan, the Bank’s Country Manager for Uganda

He said the Bank hoped to use the country brief to increase its engagement on strengthening gender policies, especially given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women.

“This discussion is timely. Closing the gender gap is one area where the Bank is engaging. The lack of financing for women-owned businesses in the energy sector is equally timely given the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on women,” said Ngafuan.

Independent gender expert Jane Mpaji, who carried out an extensive study on the status of gender mainstreaming in Uganda, said boosting women’s employment and participation in decision-making, data collection and improved impact assessments should form the basis of policy reforms.

The Bank, CIF and ENERGIA have developed Gender and Energy country briefs for Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania that provide recommendations on effective integration of gender in energy planning, implementation and monitoring.

African Development Bank also photos