Press Release: Launch of Earthlife Africa Jhb Report, “Second Class Citizens: Gender, energy and climate change in South Africa”

Forty percent of South Africa’s 48 million people are poor, and more than half of poor people are female. Around 2.5 million households are still without any access to electricity while four million households do not use electricity for cooking. This could easily mean that 20 million people still rely on dirty, polluting fuels – most of whom are women.

Earthlife Africa Jhb is launching its report “Second Class Citizens: Gender, energy and climate change in South Africa”.

Venue:     Women’s Jail Atrium, Constitution Hill, Braamfontein
Date:        17th March 2011
Time:       14h00 to 17h00

The report analyses the involvement of women in the energy policy processes. South African policy-makers are accustomed to considering energy in terms of megawatts and macro-economics – rather than in terms of the impact on ordinary people, and specifically on women. The report highlights that “we have given too much space to experts and elites, and not enough to consumers who do not use technocratic jargon.”

Access to energy is central to reducing poverty and improving the lives of women and children. In many households, energy is a woman’s responsibility. She needs energy to cook and heat water, and she is responsible for fetching wood or buying prepaid electricity. The price of energy, and the ease of access, is directly relevant to her life. Gender-blind policy risks leaving an important group of consumers behind . Until now, South Africa’s energy policy processes have to a large extent ignored gender.

The report proposes the following to ensure imporved energy policy process:
• greater participation of women in drawing up energy policy;
• greater representation of women in energy decision-making positions;
• focus on people’s needs;
• better housing;
• broader access to electricity;
• renewable energy such as biogas digestors, particularly for off-grid consumers; and
• subsidies or finance to ensure these measures are affordable.

South Africa policy-makers must consider women’s needs and desires when making policy, and actively ensure its policy is gender-inclusive. This means that policy must seek to enhance the status of women and eradicate gender inequality.

For more information please contact:

Makoma Lekalakala
Programme Officer
Earthlife Africa Jhb
tel 011 339 3662
fax 011 339 3270
cell 082 682 9177

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