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Haag, Jella, 2017. Solar power means female power? : how the introduction of electricity supports gender needs in rural Bangladesh. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Access to energy is gendered. A lack of household energy affects women in developing countries more severely than it affects men with women spending more time in the house. Women’s access to energy is additionally shaped by male decision-making on energy usage and control over resources within a household defined by women’s social position and the value attached to women’s labour in society. In order for energy systems to successfully meet women’s needs, these gender-related concerns need to be addressed. Although this link is widely recognised, women’s gender needs are still not well addressed in the planning of energy projects. For a better understanding of how electricity can impact women’s gender needs, the study at hand looks at a small-scale energy project in rural Bangladesh with regard to its gender sensitivity.
The thesis includes a review of previous literature, presenting important researchers in the field of rural electrification and women’s empowerment in rural areas. The theoretical contribution is a bridging between research fields, done by a conceptualization of access to resource, here electricity, combined with a gender perspective that emphasizes women’s gender needs and defines how actors gain, control and maintain access to electricity and related benefits. There is also a methodological contribution and discussion that highlights the different methods used in the field to identify women’s need regarding access to energy.
The empirical material is based on qualitative interviews, project site visits to two villages in Bangladesh, and a quantitative survey. The data shows that access to electricity addresses mostly women’s practical gender needs. However, there is not always a clear division between women’s practical, productive and strategic gender needs. Often, one facet of electricity addresses more than one need. The different aspects of access to electricity could not be clearly identified as meeting either a practical, productive or a strategic gender need only. Overall, access to electricity proved to have a great potential to meet women’s gender needs, especially women’s practical gender needs. Finally, the thesis discusses why productive uses of electricity will not occur as much as hoped.
While the case study of Bangladesh shows that the issue of gender sensitivity is still not high enough on the agenda, the research emphasizes how essential it is to include women and their different gender needs in all steps of the process of rural electrification. Especially in rural Bangladesh, prevailing cultural customs and traditions leave little space for women in their freedom of action, which reinforces their inability to raise their voice and claim their rights. This discrimination against women can be alleviated through enabling women access to electricity and thus improve their social status.

Main title:Solar power means female power?
Subtitle:how the introduction of electricity supports gender needs in rural Bangladesh
Authors:Haag, Jella
Supervisor:Oskarsson, Patrik
Examiner:Bartholdson, Örjan
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2017
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM009 Rural Development and Natural Resource Management - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:rural electrification, gender, Bangladesh, rural development, solar energy, access to electricity, women empowerment
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Renewable energy resources
Deposited On:24 Oct 2017 06:41
Metadata Last Modified:24 Oct 2017 06:41

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