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Gendering practices and policies in the South: Lessons for improved equity and sustainability in Pakistan’s domestic energy sector

Panel: 1. Energy consumption and wellbeing

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Rihab Khalid, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Chris Foulds, Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom


Various studies have shown that energy access, consumption and efficiency are inextricably linked to gender, and that sustainable energy transition targets cannot be met without considering women’s energy needs. However, policies in the Global South focus primarily on improving energy access without considering the diversities of demand. This paper aims to investigate the gendered nature of energy practices and policies in the Global South, particularly in relation to the experiences and expectations of energy sector professionals in Pakistan. Specifically, the concept of energy justice is drawn upon within a gender-based practice theoretical framework, based on a preliminary analysis of 21 semi-structured interviews with professional experts from Pakistan’s energy sector.

This study reveals a distinct divide of national energy policy and regulatory mechanisms between on-grid infrastructure development in urban/suburban areas, and off-grid rural communities to which access remains limited and unregulated. Analysis reveals different degrees of gender disparities between urban and rural contexts, as well as intersectional differences in energy practices of urban and rural women. Apart from distributional injustices, lack of recognition and participation in energy access play a significant role: women’s distinct energy needs and domestic practices remain marginalised in energy policy and planning due to lack of disaggregated data, context specific socio-cultural meanings and norms, and women’s underrepresented in the energy sector planning and policy. Equitable access to energy remains a challenge as professionals continue to differentiate between access to energy and its demand in domestic practices, resulting in a disconnect between ‘gender-neutral’ policy objectives and on-ground gender-biased energy outcomes. This study highlights the need to reconcile the divide between energy provision and the understanding of its demand, along with more just and gender-sensitive energy and planning policies for more equitable distribution and improved well-being.

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Download this paper as pdf: 1-032-21_Khalid.pdf

Download this presentation as pdf: 1-032-21_Khalid.pdf