Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access

Gender Mainstreaming in
Energy Access Program

At present, the lack of access to clean and modern forms of energy is affecting the ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) region’s economic growth and development. Over half of the population does not have access to electricity, and access to modern fuels is even lower. The situation is worse in rural areas where 60% of the population lives. Energy access is clearly a necessity for the region if it is to eradicate poverty and achieve the desired level of economic growth and development as well as social progression and development. Developing and mobilizing the necessary human capital; attracting and building up financial capital; tapping into social capital to foster innovation; creating investment opportunities for ECOWAS entrepreneurs and investors; and establishing an enabling environment for inclusive dialogue, are conditions that have been identified in regional and national forums. It is important to address the causes of gender inequality, that have resulted in an un-level playing field for the region’s male, female and youth population to participate in and benefit from energy development, as a prerequisite for the achievement of these conditions.  

In ECOWAS countries, barriers and challenges that limit women’s access to the same opportunities and resources as men, as well as participation in decision making processes that lead to improvements in energy access remain widespread, even though energy access and gender equality are tightly linked to many aspects of society. Energy access has been demonstrated to improve gender equality, notably through releasing female domestic labour for market work and carrying gender empowerment messages via media. Conversely, gender equality has been demonstrated to improve energy access, in particular through inclusive energy programme design. Thus, tackling energy access through the lens of gender equality has the potential of supporting national and regional development in a way that breaks the cycle of energy poverty.

  • Achieve widespread understanding of energy and gender considerations at all levels of society;
  • Ensure that all energy policies, programmes and initiatives, including large energy infrastructures and investments, are non-discriminatory, gender-inclusive, gender-balanced and directed towards addressing inequalities, particularly energy poverty, differentially affecting men and women in the region;
  • Increase women’s public sector participation in energy-related technical fields and decision-making positions;
  • Ensure that women and men have equal opportunities to enter and succeed in energy-related fields in the private sector;
  • Lead the development of gender-sensitive and gender-specific energy policies in the region;
  • Build and strengthen capacities and create a critical mass of gender-aware policy makers and empowered women entrepreneurs and technicians;
  • Bridge knowledge gaps among stakeholders and addressing sociocultural barriers for women in energy through knowledge management, awareness creation and advocacy on gender and energy issues;
  • Promote gender-responsive investments and business development by transforming women-led business ideas in energy into real, commercially viable enterprises.


  • West African Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (WAGES)
  • ECOWAS Women’s Business Fund
  • ECOWAS Network on Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access (ECOW-GENetwork)
  • Research Grant Program
  • Promoting Agricultural Competitiveness through Solar Energy (PAC-SOLAR)


  • National Action Plans (NAPs)

Under Preparation

  • Supporting Exchange and Collaboration between ECOWAS Gender Focal Units.

  • Equal participation of women, men and youth in the expansion of energy Access in West Africa; 
  • Women having an economic empowerment in the ECOWAS Region through energy for productive uses; 
  • Equality for women, men and youth in energy development through equal access to resources, opportunities and equal contribution to the decision-making processes that shape and influence energy expansion in West Africa; 
  • Awareness for mainstreaming gender in energy development in ECOWAS Member States; 




Technology Centre and Network (CTCN)


USAID/Power Africa


National Renewable Energy Laboratory/Clean Energy Solutions Centre (CESC)




Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Infrastructure Project Preparatory Facility




Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) African Development Bank (AfDB) and
Climate Action Africa (CAA)




for Gender Development (CCDG)

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