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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

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.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.