Executive Summary 

  1. A. Objective and approach 

This assignment aims to developing an evidence-based approach that can be used in future sustainable energy strategy, policy and planning documents, programmes/projects, initiatives and investment frameworks. This is done through: 

✓ UNDP energy portfolio review, to map approaches on gender equality under the following thematic areas: 

• UNDP’s global and regional approaches 

• Energy access projects 

• Sustainable cities and urban planning projects 

• Policy advice 

In all, 17 UNDP projects were reviewed, as part of this analysis. 

✓ Review of global literature on gender and energy and nationally determined contribution (NDC) submissions. 

✓ Stakeholder Interviews, including UNDP energy team members. 


  1. B. Key findings of the review 

Within the UNDP energy sector portfolio, the performance and reporting on gender has improved over the years and is more structured than before. The requirements of the environmental financing mechanisms have ensured that the vertical fund (VF) initiatives include specific gender actions in the project life cycle. However, the performance is variable, with some projects being ambitious, while others committing only to the bare minimum required in terms of gender. 

B1. Energy access projects 

  • In all energy access projects, men and women enjoy direct benefits of modern energy, and women participate in training and some income generation activities. Results are less visible in transformative areas of women gaining owning energy assets, benefitting from productive use of energy; leading to their economic and social empowerment. 
  • Strategies to promote women’s energy entrepreneurship and their involvement in productive use of energy have not been utilized sufficiently in energy access projects. 
  • The project-policy link or the extent to which gender mainstreaming lessons from projects are being translated to policy advice has been variable, in the case of energy access projects. 
  • There is good scope for improvement in aiming for higher gender outcomes and tracking better the progress and results on gender.
    i) Raising the level of ambition on gender in energy projects. 
    ii) The results frameworks mostly reflect the low level of ambition and do not include outcome level indicators and mostly track minimum output indicators.
    iii) As a consequence, even when significant gender results are experienced, they not find a prominent place in reporting. 
    iiv) Higher order results of women’s empowerment and transformation in gender relations are, at best, captured anecdotally. 


B2. Energy efficient transport and infrastructure solutions for urban planning projects 

  • Designing gender-sensitive transport and infrastructure interventions, including safety measures to address harassment against women in public spaces have worked well. 
  • Engaging women’s groups is a useful strategy to mobilize women, especially in situations where they are vulnerable and hesitant to take up activities by themselves. 
  • Engaging national governments, municipalities, as well as stakeholders like Mayors, has worked well. 
  • Encouraging gender parity in employment through organizations participating in projects has worked well. However, efforts are required to institutionalize this in the national systems by working closely with the government, both local and national. 
  • An area that has not found much attention is urban slums, where women face a range of issues. This area may be looked at more closely moving forward. 


B3. Policy advice 

UNDP’s policy advice works spans across several areas, including using its own project experience and evidence for national policy development, and direct support to national climate and energy sector policies, legislation and regulation through initiatives like NDC support (NDC SP) Programme. 

The positive impact of the NDC Support Programme is evident in several countries, including Peru and Ecuador. Good practices in advising policy include: 

  • Embedding climate actions within the national mandates on gender equality 
  • Involving gender specialists throughout the process 
  • Demonstrating through pilots (like the e-mujer in Peru)how gender can be incorporated within technical fields like renewable energy 
  • Strong inter-institutional coordination between national bodies that deal with climate change and gender equality and engaging civil society and women’s organizations 

B4. Global and regional initiatives 

UNDP’s regional and global initiatives provide an excellent platform to integrate gender at a large scale. Some of these like the UN’s Renewable Energy Offer for the Sahel integrate gender well, however, others like the DREI framework do not consider gender or social dimensions as an element of de-risking. 

Across all of these, there is a need to have common operational procedures for all global and regional initiatives. 

C. Recommendations and a framework for action 


C1. Strategic framework for embedding gender into UNDP’s energy sector work 

  • At the strategic level, the focus/ rationale of mainstreaming gender in energy sector should be to empower women and to maximize the coherence between UNDP’s gender equality mandate and energy sector priorities. 
  • Measures to strengthen impacts in existing thematic areas. 
  • Recommendations on new areas of work, issues/ areas in which UNDP does not have a strong presence currently, but are suggested as thematic areas to start engaging in. 

At the strategic level, the framework proposes three pillars for positioning gender in the energy sector work of UNDP: 

  • Focus of gender in energy sector: The central focus of UNDP’s energy interventions is to enable or catalyze inclusive development. In this context, gender equality and women’s empowerment aims at closing gender gaps and improving their access to market, ownership and control of economic assets. It is suggested that in addition to this, the following two arguments/ objectives be made central to the positioning of gender mainstreaming in the energy portfolio. 
  • Gender mainstreaming as a policy and investment de-risking measure. “Social de-risking” or enhancing the community/ household level acceptance of interventions like energy efficiency measures, clean cooking etc is critical to success and sustainability of energy investments. Women, individually and through their networks, are uniquely positioned to disseminate as well as enhance the acceptance of energy technologies, especially at the last mile. 
  • Women as agents of change, collaborators and innovators in global energy transition. 


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