The ECOWAS Programme on Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access (ECOW-GEN) is a flagship programme of the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) addressing barriers to the equal participation of women and men in expanding energy access in West Africa.
ECOW-GEN was established against the background that women’s potential, in the ECOWAS region, as producers and suppliers of energy services is underutilized and that empowering women and men to make significant contributions to the implementation of the regional policies on renewable energy and energy efficiency is necessary for the achievement of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) goals in West Africa.
Thus, to ensure that women, as much as men, contribute to, and benefit from, clean energy development ECOW-GEN implements activities directed at strengthening women economically by improving energy access for income generating activities and, more importantly, empowering women as active actors in the sustainable energy sector.
Launched in 2013, the programme started its pilot phase working on the four Members States of the Mano River Union (MRU) – Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Over the course of the pilot phase of the programme:
- More than 70 energy experts from the Member States were trained on mainstreaming gender in energy policies, programs, and projects.
- 250 participants, comprising of Gender and Energy Ministers, women groups and associations, civil society organizations, parliamentarians, etc. from the MRU, trained on developing Gender Action Plans.
- A Framework Action Plan on ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment through Energy Access in the Mano River Union (MRU) Sub-region was developed with, and adopted by, the MRU Gender and Energy Ministers.
- Under the ECOWAS Women’s Business Fund, clean energy demonstration projects in Ghana and Senegal are being supported through grants. It is expected that these projects would lead to 1000 women street vendors having access to improved liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stoves in Ghana and the installation of 13 clean and improved modern furnaces for fish smoking in a rural fishing community in Senegal.
- ECOW-GEN is pioneering the first regional gender-sensitive and gender-responsive energy policy, to address all forms of gender inequalities pertaining to energy development and consumption in West Africa.
With successful completion of the pilot phase, activities, envisaged to have even more far-reaching impacts, have been planned for over a 5 – year period starting from 2015 – 2019. These activities will be implemented through the ECOW-GEN high-impacts initiatives and would address barriers related to awareness and capacity, financial, technical, policy and regulation.