[SE32-ENE] Gender and Renewable Energy Rural Electrification Programs

DAY 2 – Thursday 28 June – 10:45-12:30

Swiss Tech | Room 2C | Level Garden

Session Leaders


Maja Gajic,

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia; majag555@gmail.com

Maja has just submitted her PhD thesis on the topic of a designing a hybrid solar collector. Since traveling abroad, after completing her undergraduate degree, Maja has become involved with several NGOs working with solar technologies and has been involved with assisting with programs in rural Fiji, East Timor and Nepal. She has previously received a scholarship to attend a TERI University (India) intensive on Sustainable Energy giving her an insight into cutting edge research on energy access for the underserved. She will soon be traveling to Liberia to work on the Light Up Liberia project there.

Lydia Muchiri,

Practical Action Eastern Africa;   


Lydia is a gender, energy and development expert with broad experience in designing and implementing energy and gender programmes and projects, including lobbying and advocacy. She is currently coordinating initiatives to strengthen women’s capacity to effectively participate in, and benefit from energy markets as actors and beneficiaries. She coordinated CSO input on energy and gender during the SEforALL process, including support to the Kenya government to mainstream gender and pro-poor strategies in the key outcome documents. She is currently providing technical support on gender and social inclusion to the Green Mini-Grid Facility in Kenya and is the focal point for ENERGIA International Network in Kenya.




Some recently emerged research from India has shown that despite significant expenditure on implementing a solar home system program there was no systematic evidence for broader indicators of socioeconomic development. Does looking at this study through a gendered lens reveal insights as to why no benefits were found? Gender is an important and often underacknowledged aspect of energy programs.

There is a real need to consciously address the participation, access and impact on women in such programs. In rural areas of low energy access and low socio-economic development, the burden of unpaid work for gathering fuel for cooking and lighting falls disproportionately on women. In addition, as quoted by Ban Ki-moon, “Women spend hours each day on routine daily subsistence activities—pounding grain, hauling water and gathering firewood. They have little or no time for earning income”.

Of course, access to energy at all levels is recognized as critical for development but improving energy access for women in particular has unique benefits to the women themselves, to their families and their communities and these first need to be recognized before they can be quantified and measured as impact.

Panelists and Abstracts


Community Managed Micro Hydropower Projects and Their Impact on Life Quality of Women in Himalaya

Prakash C. Tiwari1, Bhagwati Joshi2

1Professor of Geography, Kumaun University, Nainital 263001, Uttarakhand, India

2Assistant Professor of Geography, Government Post Graduate College, India


Email: pctiwari@yahoo.com

Biography of Presenting Author: Dr. Prakash C. Tiwari is Professor of Geography at Kumaun University, Nainital, Uttarakhand, India. He is community based natural resource management specialist. Professor Tiwari is involved in several international multi-institutional collaborative projects on natural resource management and sustainable development funded by NASA, USA; British Council, UK; Royal Academy of UK; International Water Management Institute; and Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research. He is one of the Lead Authors of Hindu Kush Himalaya Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP) of ICIMOD.


Study analyses impacts of community based micro-hydropower projects on women’s access to energy and their life-quality in Himalaya with case study of Ramgarh Micro-hydropower project in Uttarakhand Himalaya in India. Methodology included comprehensive literature review; detailed filed survey using semi-structured interviews; empirical observations; and informal group discussions with women and other stakeholders. Findings indicated that community based micro hydro power projects are contributing not only towards socio-economic development through livelihood improvement and conservation of forests and biodiversity; but also improving social life of rural women through reducing workload and providing them opportunities of mainstreaming. This can be used as major driver of social transformation and mainstreaming of rural women all across the Himalayan mountains. However, a multi-stakeholder governance framework need to be evolved and institutionalized at micro-watershed level; and improved access to energy has to be matched by particular needs of communities, access to finance, skill development, and market linkages.

Salt Tolerant and Halophytic Plants for Sustainable Land Management and Renewable Energy Production in Marginal Environment of Central Asia

Natalya Akinshina1, Azamat Azizov1, Hidenari Yasui2, Kristina Toderich3

1 National University of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

2 The University of Kitakyushu, Kitakyushu, Japan

3International Center for Biosaline Agriculture, CAC-office, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Presenting author’s email address: n.akinshina@yahoo.com

Biography of Presenting Author: Dr. Natalya Akinshina is a principal investigator of research Department of Applied Ecology and Sustainable Development at the National University of Uzbekistan, Tashkent city, Uzbekistan. She has been working at the university since 1993. She has published about 80 scientific publications, 8 books and 3 patents. Recently, her researches focus on plant ecology, abiotic stress, technologies for anaerobic digestion of organic waste and halophytic biomass particularly. She studies dry and wet anaerobic digestion for biogas production. Besides, she is involved in training activities related to ESD, SDG and GCE and development of educational materials on relevant topics.


Findings of cultivation of salt-tolerant and halophytic plants in Central Kyzyl-Kum Desert (Uzbekistan) using marginal resources (low productive sandy salt-affected lands and thermal mineralized artesian water) are described briefly. Halophytes and salt-tolerant species have importance as feed, fodder, technical and medicinal plants. In addition, these underutilized resources might play important role for soil reclamation, water table control, landscaping purpose and sand-dune fixation. Thus, their cultivation under limited marginal land and water resources could be beneficial for local communities and environment. It is proposed to use inedible halophytic biomass for energy (biogas) production. High biomass yield and good potential for biogas production is reported. High nutritional value of the biomass is confirmed. It is shown that native wild halophytes can be used for desalination and remediation purposes in pure stands or in mixture with different salt tolerant crops.

The Role of Women in the Deployment and Social Acceptance of Rural Electrification (Extended Abstract)

Arun Sam Amirtham1, Aadhi Narayanan2

1 zeroPoverty Social Business, Altendorf, Switzerland, and Bangalore, India

2 DHAN Foundation, Madurai, India

Presenting author’s email address: arun.amirtham@swiss-mango.com

Biography of Presenting Author (80 words): Arun Sam Amirtham is a solar entrepreneur. He developed the Modular Mass-Deployment Solar Station (M2S2) in 2010 to provide a mechanism for rapid electricity deployment in difficult rural terrains. He launched the zeroPoverty Social Business in 2015 to pursue rural electrification based on the 5C-Core business model and solar home systems (SHS) that have been successfully deployed in Bangladesh and in parts of Africa. He divides his time between commercial projects and social business in Switzerland and in India.


The 5C-Core Model for Rural Electrification has been successfully tested in five pilot districts in India. The five components of the model include: 1) governance, 2) appropriate technology, 3) training and customer support, 4) monitoring and evaluation, and 5) advocacy and local anchoring.

The key social drivers for the success of the project have been two-fold: a) lighting after sunset for children’s education and b) smoke-free light in dark huts to make the environment conducive for women.

Women have played a key role in the implementation of the project. Social workers active in rural education and in primary health services have been retrained as trainers and as solar entrepreneurs to implement the programme. Women have also played a key role in the social acceptance and the success seen in the domestic deployment of electrification programmes. The initial results from Tamilnadu and Karnataka are very encouraging and offer a template for further deployment.