Gender Equality

Electrification has many benefits to women and to promote gender equality. This chapter will have a focus on the specific measures included in the Rural Energy Master Plan which will benefit gender equality.

Biomass as fuel affects primarily women. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Outlook 2015, in Liberia the percentage of population relying on traditional use of biomass for cooking was 98% in 2013. Moreover, this percentage is higher in Liberia than in Sub-Saharan Africa (80%), and indeed Liberia is among the countries with highest percentage of the population relying on traditional use of biomass for cooking in the world. The burden of gathering wood and other types of fuel falls beneath the women’s responsibilities which imposes a setback on their education and economic involvement. Moreover, the use of biomass indoors contributes to respiratory illnesses which affect more women than men. With electricity, cooking gas and promotion of efficient cook stoves the amount of wood used for cooking can be seriously diminished, thus decreasing the burden set on women to gather it and also promoting efficiency, meaning that the time consumed in these activities is reduced.

Electric appliances allow women to save time and reduce effort. Other than promoting more efficient cooking fuels and options, by providing electricity to households women are also able to have other appliances which are extremely helpful in their daily activities, such as refrigerators and freezers to conserve food, and in a later phase washing machines for clothes and dishes and electric irons. Allowing women to cook food more efficiently and preserve it for the next day using a refrigerator and powering households with options where they can obtain several appliances enables women to complete their usual tasks in less time and with less physical effort and some of the manual tasks that may be substituted with the use of electric appliances. Hence, by reducing the time women spend on these household activities they are able to employ more time in education and in their economic activity.

Additional ways to promote gender equality. Another way to promote gender equality is to involve women in the decision making process regarding rural electrification, as well as educate women with regards to electrification so that they are able to be part of the construction and maintenance of the electricity grid. A scholarship program to facilitate women’s access to the training opportunities of the Master Plan is planned.

Hence, there is a clear promotion for gender equality and to increase the livelihood of women.