Journal Article - April 2023

Frameworks, methods and evidence connecting modern domestic energy services and gender empowerment

The world remains far from meeting Sustainable Development Goals 5 (gender equality) and 7 (universal access to modern energy). Energy access may empower women even as empowered women are more likely to adopt and use modern energy services. Such bidirectional linkages are underappreciated in the empirical literature, which typically estimates unidirectional relationships based on simple binary indicators. Here we review theoretical frameworks on women’s empowerment, take stock of the empirical literature on the connections between women’s empowerment and energy access, and place empirical results in the context of the theoretical literature. We highlight major knowledge gaps that require further attention from researchers and practitioners. In particular, we recommend the use of more comprehensive measures of energy services, the consideration of a richer set of gender empowerment indicators and the application of pluralistic methods to address the challenges of understanding how energy intersects with gender.

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