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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Shivi Chandna

Energy and gender in rural areas
Several developing countries have implemented off-grid rural electrification interventions to help alleviate poverty. Women form the central part of energy systems in their homes and access to electricity impacts men and women differently. This study investigates the impacts of solar home systems in the villages of Bihar, India under the context of collaboration between TERI, a sustainable development organization, and JEEViKA, a large-scale poverty alleviation intervention, which mobilizes poor women into self-help groups. Using inductive qualitative methods the study describes the different ways in which solar home systems in the households benefit women. It analyses the aspects of the collaboration between an energy technology initiative and a women-centric intervention. Finally, it draws on the results to shed light on the understanding of women’s empowerment through access to electricity.
A recurring theme of importance of child welfare to women is found in this study. Electric light indirectly benefits a woman through her key parental responsibility of child rearing. This in combination with participation in self-help group activities gives the woman respect and pride, which from a women’s empowerment perspective is argued to be more important than the practical benefits solar home systems provide.