Ethiopia is a landlocked country with an estimated 109 million people representing the second most populous nation in Africa following Nigeria. The country is endowed with abundant renewable energy resources with an enormous potential for electricity generation. Despite this, Ethiopia is one of the lowest energy-consuming countries in the world in which only 44% of the 109 million inhabitants have access to electricity. This seriously limits the country’s potential for economic growth and social development as the energy sector of Ethiopia is largely reliant on traditional biomass energy due to limited access to modern sources of energy to meet the growing market demand.
It is evidently true that the use of traditional biomass energy will have huge negative implications on women and children in terms of their health, social relation and time freedom. That is the traditional use of biomass energy will expose these groups of the society to a greater health risk resulting from the inconvenient fuel collection practice and the unsafe use pattern that is commonly prone to indoor air pollution. This fact coupled with the absence of reliable energy supply will preclude women and children from basic maternal and infant medical services. Likewise, the lack of improved energy access is also a major hindrance to communication and information. This is more resounding and typical for rural women who usually rely on traditional ways of information exchange. The absence, inaccessibility and/or unaffordability of modern information exchange and communication channels in their localities, will prevent women from engaging in productive employment prospects.
Therefore, Ethiopia will only be able to improve this issue through the expansion of the use of renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources. This should help in alleviating the daily household burdens of women in terms of giving them more time freedom, improving their health and enhancing their livelihoods.
In due consideration of these facts, Energizing Development Ethiopia (hereafter, EnDev-ETH) supports the establishment of markets for modern energy supply with a focus on rural areas so as to contribute to the clean energy supply efforts of the country.
Thus, EnDev-ETH plays major roles in improved energy access for poor households, social institutions and small and medium enterprises based on three types of engagements: Household Energy distribution, Social Infrastructure electrification, and Mini-Grids Development.
- Promoting gender equality
In Africa, gender equality has always been elusive. Women still play minor roles in all the major sectors of the economy and politics. However, it seems there is a new wave that is sweeping across Africa. A change is coming, and Ethiopia appears to be at the forefront of this transformation.
For instance, 80 percent of Ethiopia’s population resides in rural areas, where economic activity is largely agricultural. Women and girls provide the much-needed labour in their rural communities, in addition to the 100% household chores and childbearing and nurturing activities they perform.
Although their contribution to societal wellbeing is limitless, it is seldom that women and girls are accorded the proper recognition by the larger society. They are rather victimised for all their good deeds surprisingly such victimisation mostly comes from their immediate family members including their spouses and parents by restricting their access to resources and community participation. Based on a study conducted by USAID (2019), it was indicated that 1 in 3 women experience
physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Furthermore, more than 65% of women have undergone female genital mutilation, half of the girls who enroll in primary school never make it past grade five, and only 35 percent of undergraduate university students were female and five percent of them drop out in the first year. The statistics can go on and on, showing the grim reality of gender inequality existing in Ethiopia, as elsewhere in much of Africa.
However, the current government of Ethiopia seems to be on the right track of achieving gender equality, under the leadership of the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed who showed bold commitment in his leadership to ensure the achievement of gender equality within the country.
In line with this, EnDev-ETH showed its first Accountability and support to gender mainstreaming and gender equality promotion when it developed its gender analysis document in May 2017.
Afterward, considering GIZ vision EnDev-ETH in March 2019 took the first major step to appoint two Gender Focal points within the program to facilitate the gender mainstreaming approach.
The project thereafter developed a gender checklist to collect data for a gender engagement that has recently been embarked upon by EnDev-ETH. The checklist was primarily intended to make a diagnostic review of the existing gender issues prevailing in the project in a bid to identify the gaps in the current practices and set the context for subsequent remedial actions for the future. After succeeding in that, the project developed a ToR to hire a gender consultant who could advise the project in developing a strong gender-responsive system to ensure gender mainstreaming across all program units and interventions. The consultant based on the ToR is also expected to revise and update the EnDev Ethiopia Gender analysis document.
The project takes enhancement and promotion of gender equality as a Corporate Culture when it cooperates with and supports partners in integrating gender aspects in different measures and activities. In this respect, the project focal points routinely participate in gender working groups and networks.
For instance, on the celebration of International Women’s day held at Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE) on March 15, 2019, EnDev-ETH hosted the award of 3 plug and play solar PV systems to three selected women producers that were engaged in the energy sector with a proven remarkable performance.
In another occasion, In the launching event of an association called Ethiopian Women in Energy (EWiEn), Energising Development Ethiopia sponsored a one-day exhibition booth with the aim of creating the opportunity to those strong women service providers that are engaged in the distribution of energy technologies to introduce and network themselves with the different stakeholders.
To develop the Gender Competence of managers and staff, an awareness creation session was primarily held with all EnDev-ETH managers to advance their knowledge and information towards gender mainstreaming and allow them to work in a gender-responsive manner. In a recent development, the project is finalizing the preparation of a three hours gender awareness creation workshop to be delivered to all EnDev-ETH staff that is scheduled to be conducted in the month of December 2019. Gender experts that are especially working in the area of energy will be invited to share their knowledge and experience on the subject matter during the planned workshop.
Apart from integrating gender aspects in reporting and knowledge management, the project has started integrating gender aspects in ToRs, concept notes, and operational plans as part of its Processes Adjustment initiatives.
Finally, the project’s focal points gave a presentation to share EnDev-ETH’s knowledge and experience to the various gender focal points of GIZ Ethiopia projects on the following topic areas:
- The role of gender in the project and team context
- How EnDev-ET tackle gender issues in the project cycle and commission management as well as gender mainstreaming
- What the project gender focal points contributed to the implementation of the GIZ gender strategy and the different challenges they faced while executing their duty.
- Best practices, examples of interventions, discussion of internal and external challenges
Within their eight months of engagement, the project’s focal points through the execution of some of the activities mentioned hereinabove were able to sensitize the project’s workforce towards gender aspects and managed to work closely with different partners in different gender equality initiatives.
The expected short-term impact of the gender issue promotion is to have a program that is made up of a workforce that are well aware of and sensitive to the subject matter of gender equality in their respective area of responsibility. The medium-term impact will be having a strong gender-responsive system to ensure gender mainstreaming across all of the program units and interventions. The desired long-term impact of the intervention, on the other hand, is to create a program that ensures equal opportunities to both men and women at all levels of its engagement.
- Gender as a quality feature of our work
As once been said Melinda Gates, “Our economies are built on the back of women’s unpaid labour work”. As it was mentioned previously women’s efforts are mostly unrecognized, however, EnDev-ETH is trying its level best to at least alter the prevailing situation by identifying and recognizing the efforts that were demonstrated by some women that were engaged in the energy sector at different occasions.
Such occasion and events that were organized and hosted by EnDev-ETH were mostly acknowledged by different partners as they created opportunities that included:
- The creation of awareness among the general public on the need to empower women and its importance in recognizing and encouraging women.
- Such provision will also serve as a marketing tool to introduce and advertise businesswomen and their products to other organizations and the wider public for future engagements.
- This kind of engagements could also set an example/lesson to those women who sit in their houses helplessly without any work to think, stand up, and get to work.
- It gives an opportunity for women to overcome their fears and limitations and come up with their skill/expertise to turn their dreams into reality.
- Gender and result-based monitoring
Due to Energising Development Ethiopia energy intervention through different technologies (Improved cookstoves, solar technologies, and micro-hydro power grid connections):
- The adverse health effects of indoor air pollution were reduced, especially for children and women who are primarily and intensively exposed.
- The drudgery of fuelwood collection was diminished saving time and effort for women.
- Small-scale stove producers, more than 50% of women, benefited from self-sustaining income-generating opportunities.
- In the Improved cookstove sector, 98 jobs were created, of which 71 were created for women.
- The Pilot briquetting plant that was established by the support of EnDev Ethiopia has created employment opportunity for 5 women.
- A capacity development training was granted to 18 women in order to help them advance their business and entrepreneurship skills. Because of this, eight of the training participants managed to open their own enterprises.
- 20 women received solar PV technical training and the project arranged a workshop with different government offices to give these women a chance to introduce and network themselves with government officials.
- Electrification of institutions, as well as small and micro enterprises, have changed or improved the standard of living in terms of education, health, hygiene, etc for the local community at large and for women in particular.
And these results are registered and documented in the project central database, factsheets and different reports.
In relation to gender, EnDev-ETH is currently working with two partners, Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Energy (MoWIE) and Ethiopian Women in Energy (EWiEn) Association, focusing on how EnDev-ETH and their office can work together in achieving gender equality especially in the energy sector.
Both captioned partners work towards a common goal of seeing Ethiopian women in the energy sector playing a significant role in eradicating energy poverty from the country. These entities also focus on empowering women in the energy sector through networking and training. More importantly, the goals that were discussed hereinabove are equally shared by EnDev-ETH and would like to achieve the same in its energy intervention.
The different challenges the project faced during its gender mainstreaming engagements individually or as part of the partnership included:
- Most team members from the partner as well as project offices understand gender is an important topic, but most of the time they have other priorities in their work. Due to this, gender issues were sometimes regarded as lessor importance and were treated as an unadded burden.
- Partners budget limitation to perform gender-related studies and assessments.
The successes that EnDev-ETH realised while working with these partners included:
- On celebration of International Women’s’ day held at Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE) on March 15, 2019, EnDev-ETH hosted the award of 3 plug and play solar PV systems to three selected women producers that were engaged in the energy sector who had a proven remarkable performance. During the event Gender focal points had an interview session with three of the award winners to hear their success story. The summary of their interview was documented and forwarded to the knowledge management unit.
- In the launching event of the association named “Ethiopian Women in Energy (EWiEn)”, EnDev-ETH sponsored a one-day exhibition booth and gave the chance to a number of women energy technology service providers to reconnect and engage themselves with the different stakeholders.
- In recent development, EnDev-ETH was requested by MoWIE to cooperate in the gender audit and gender gap assessment the ministry hopes to execute soon. Accordingly, the project agreed to pledge its support to the planned task by covering the expenses related to the consultancy service and other payments thereon. It’s anticipated that the ministry will lodge the final assessment report to EnDev-ETH upon completion of the assessment which will enable the project to gain a clear picture of the country’s current standing in relation to gender equality as applied in the energy sector.
- Due to EnDev-ETH recent activities, partners’ attention to work with the project especially in gender aspects is showing development from the previous times.
 World Bank 2018 data.
 World Bank 2017 data.