reinforce this situation by ignoring women, and looking instead for expertise held by (usually better-educated) men, they risk missing out on some of the most important and relevant issues. One of these key issues is the availability of adequate, renewable, cheap and healthy energy
A training manual has been developed for use by ITDG project staff with various partners in development (1). ITDG recognises that vulnerability can only be sustainably addressed by empowering, supporting and energising those who are most at risk. The training manual aims to help field and community workers to identify and listen to under-represented resource-poor people.
costs, benefits and resources are rarely evenly distributed, even within the family. Using tools such as stakeholder analysis may indicate those areas of support in the field of energy which may be of value to poor women.
It is important that women’s energy needs are understood within the whole context of their lives. Their existing knowledge must be respected and used as a basis for developing the energy sector and the way in which it serves the poor.
existing resources and initiatives already held by poor people, and which currently sustain them. Helen Appleton for example reported on the importance of women’s invisible technical abilities in ensuring household food security(3). The Framework can be used to highlight those aspects of their lives that make people vulnerable: shocks, trends and crises. These factors are not only environmental but also political, economic and, especially in the case of poor women, very often social.
- allow participants to explore the importance of their existing knowledge and the importance of energy resources in increasing security
- consider the relevance of modern communication technology to them in their quest to be heard
- allow them to test out reasonable ways in which they can retain control of the vital links through which they can communicate with decision makers.
As the training manual is distributed to partner organisations, an International Gender and Technology network is being set up to share experiences and monitor results. Any organisations interested should contact the author.
- The ‘Discovering Technologists’ manuals have been piloted in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Peru, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. An international compilation will be published by ITDG.
- Sustainable Livelihoods: Lessons from early experience’ Caroline Ashley and Diana Carney, DFID (1999).
- Sustainable Livelihoods Guidance Sheets’ DFID (1999)
- Appleton H. (ed) Do It Herself, women and technical innovation ITDG Publications 1995.