Concept note for panel discussion at IAWS Annual Conference, 2017

Sub theme 10: Climate change and women

Access and use of clean energy is closely linked to the problem of climate change. The focus of the panel is on the ways in which women’s use of modern energy (broadly electricity, LPG and diesel) is related to their empowerment. There can two ways in which energy and empowerment of women relate to each other. Use of energy may lead to empowerment, or empowerment of women may lead to a change in the use of energy, e.g. shifting from household polluting solid biomass to non-household polluting LPG.

Panelists will look at both of the above relations between use of energy and the empowerment of women. The empowerment of women can be seen as occurring when there is a change in gender relations in the household and wider society from that which existed earlier. A minimal definition of empowerment, using Amartya Sen’s cooperative conflict model of household bargaining, is when women are able to change the distribution of resources or consumption within the household in their favour.

Women’s use of energy can be looked at in three domains – household consumption, the consumptive use of energy: the productive or income-earning use of energy such as agriculture and agri based enterprises; and community or public use of energy. As always in such categorization there are cross-category connections. For instance, electricity for charging a mobile phone may have both consumptive (social networking) and productive (checking on market prices) uses as well as changes in gendered social norms.

Panelists will each deal with one of the above domains, consumption, production and community use. They are encouraged to look at not only the initial or first-order relations (e.g. women’s empowerment leading to their shift from wood to LPG for cooking) but also the subsequent, reflexive or second-order relations – that the switch in cooking fuel may, in turn, lead to subsequent empowerment.

The panelists will be requested to respond to two to three questions raised by the moderator followed by the remarks from the discussant and open discussion. Enough time will be allocated for the open discussion to get the wider perspectives on the issues raised.

Suggested panel:
Moderator: Govind Kelkar
Panelists: Rengalakshmi R.; Manjula M; and Dev Nathan