About Gender Mainstreaming

What, Why and How ECREEE aim to achieve Gender mainstreaming in Energy Access

Gender is not synonymous to women, but refers to both women and men. It also refers to the unique roles and responsibilities of both gender groups as defined by society. These social roles and responsibilities influence profoundly the relationship between women and men in the society and, in most instances, determine the resources available and accessible to women and men.

The society, in shaping the expectations men and women are to fulfill, sometimes creates an unleveled playing field for men and women. An overview of Gender in West Africa shows a disparity in the socio-economic status of women as opposed to men. Women, and their needs, are observed to be less represented in decision-making; they work more with less to show for it, and generally do not enjoy the same quality of life as men. The statistics is that there are more literate adult men (89.4%) than women (78.8 %), unemployment rate is higher with women (27.2 %) and lesser with men (15.5%), and unsurprisingly female headed households are more likely to be poor (56.3%) compared to male headed households (43.7%) (ECOWAS Gender Strategy, 2010-2020)

Clearly, there is a huge gender gap in the region. Addressing this issue is necessary in building a socially inclusive and sustainable economy, and gender mainstreaming is the means to achieving this end.

Gender mainstreaming is an approach, or strategy, in policy formulation, legislative drafting, project or programme design and development that has incorporated to its core, the varying attributes and needs of men and women with the objective to ensure that the benefits or impacts of the intervention are not disproportionately felt between the gender groups. The watchword here is equality.

The ECOWAS community is committed to promoting gender equality. The region adopted a Gender Strategy (2010- 2020) which will enable the ECOWAS region move towards a participatory approach involving men and women as equal stakeholders in its developmental agenda and equal beneficiaries in the outcomes of the region’s developmental efforts

Energy plays an important role in eradicating both income and human poverty. Although referred to as the missing millennium development goal (MDG), access to clean and modern energy is critical in achieving all of the eight established MDGs.

West Africa is a region where available, accessible and affordable energy services remain a pressing challenge. Whether in terms of electricity or in terms of modern cooking fuels, countries within the region are seen to fall among the worst performers in delivering energy services to its populace.

Moreover, when the impacts of energy poverty are assessed at a disaggregated level, a clear disparity exists between men and women. This condition is mainly attributed to the fact that, on average, woodfuel accounts for over 60% of the energy mix of countries within the region.  As about 80% of this fuel is used for cooking, women who are mainly responsible for this activity, face more directly the impacts of procuring and using, in the traditional form, biomass in meeting the household energy needs.

Consequently, an energy policy or project which does not take into consideration the differences in gender roles as constructed by the society cannot effectively meet the needs of both men and women and will, ultimately, not lead to sustainable energy for all.

Thus, as energy poverty affects men and women differently, mainstreaming gender in energy access in therefore necessary to accommodate for the differences in the energy needs of men and women at the community and household level.

Our goal in ECREEE is to ensure that women, who play vital roles as energy producers and managers in their households, have access, as men, to energy services for uses including those which could enhance their entrepreneurial capacities.

With gender being a crosscutting issue, the ECOWAS Programme on Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access will be implemented in synergy with all other programmes, projects and activities of ECREEE as listed below:


  1. Policy Development
  2. Capacity Development
  3. Knowledge Management and Awareness
  4. Investment and Business Promotion
  5. ECOWAS Bioenergy Programme and its initiative- the West African Clean Cooking Alliance


  1. Supporting Energy Efficiency for Access in West Africa (SEEA-WA) project
  2. Renewable Energy Facility for peri-urban and rural areas (EREF)


  1. Elaboration of the National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs)
  2. Capacity Needs Assessment and elaboration of the regional capacity development strategy
  3. Further development of the ECOWAS Observatory for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECOWREX)