Gender, as defined by Dr. Kuthea Nguti, the Academic Director for ‘We Create’, an entrepreneurship training programme for needy youth in Kenya and a faculty member in the Strathmore University Business School, refers to the roles and behaviours or societies or groups assigned to or expected of women or men. Gender roles, she continues, are patterns where women have one set of roles and responsibilities, and men have another regardless of their skills and interests. These were part of the opening remarks by Dr. Nguti during an online training on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in the Energy Sector held on 26th August 2021. The training, supported by UKPACT, will enable the project team apply GESI perspective in the development of the Narok County Energy Plan.
Our cultural beliefs
Due to our upbringing, each one of us naturally possesses certain beliefs. Culturally, taking the Kenyan context, women were assigned roles of household chores while carrying of loads, performing mechanical jobs, and providing for the family were assigned to men. Naturally this extended to how they evolved into their careers as women were expected to do lighter jobs. In the Greek culture, Dimitris Mentris, Senior Energy Geographer, Energy Access and Project Lead, Energy Access Explorer at World Resources Institute, remembers being taught that men should be strong, make decisions, be highly technically trained, and never cry. Indeed, our cultural beliefs play a big role in how we view gender.
Unlearning our gender beliefs
Gender equality therefore refers to equality under the law, equality of opportunity which includes rewards for work, equality of access to human capital and other productive resources and equality of voice that allows one the ability to influence and contribute to the development process. Further, social inclusion refers to equal access to resources and influence for all people, regardless of sex, disability, economic status, ethnicity religion or language.
The training unpacked practical ways we can unlearn our gender beliefs and integrate gender into energy operations using a four-step plan that included a gender assessment, a gender action plan, implementation and monitoring, and finally completion and evaluation. The gender assessment should include the how. Here one uses the already existing literature to understand the current situation in the context they will be collecting data. For example, one can use gender briefing notes on the energy sector. Secondly, one needs to develop a gender action plan aligned to the national gender action plan. The gender assessment should assist the team develop a project design. Thirdly, strengthen the project’s implementation and monitoring plan. One way to do this is through capacity building for gender focal points. Finally, provide a report which includes an analysis of the gender-related impacts and outcomes.
This training will assist the different partners collaboratively work with the Narok County government to develop a data-driven energy plan to increase access to clean energy which is linked to Sustainable Development Goal 7 to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. The project team are now better equipped in applying the GESI lens in the Narok County Plan project and other energy projects including development and application of research tools as well as reporting.