Promoting a gender perspective and addressing the unique challenges faced by women in Central Asia’s energy transition is crucial for achieving sustainable development. Central Asia holds immense potential for sustainable small-scale hydropower, which remains largely untapped in the region. The Hydro4U project aims to address this untapped potential and demonstrate the viability of eco-friendly hydropower solutions in Central Asia. However, the project goes beyond the realms of energy and technology. It recognizes the importance of addressing gender issues and empowering women in the water-energy-food-climate nexus.
The Hydro4U project aims to adapt European technologies to Central Asia, demonstrating the viability of sustainable small-scale hydropower and fostering cross-sectoral cooperation. Thereby, one of its core objectives is to promote gender equality by ensuring women’s active participation, capacity building, and economic empowerment in the water-energy-food-climate nexus. By integrating gender considerations into its activities, Hydro4U aims to create a more inclusive and equitable society.
The current energy crisis and transition in Central Asia, shifting from fossil fuels to renewables, have specific effects on women, exacerbating the burden on women in rural areas through limited access to clean energy sources and unreliable energy supply. Energy shortages impact Women’s daily tasks, livelihoods, and economic opportunities in addition to the challenges they face related to education, health, and household responsibilities due to energy limitations and fluctuations.
Climate change alters water availability and growing seasons, affecting agriculture and food security in rural areas. Changes in precipitation patterns and temperature can lead to reduced crop yields, livestock productivity, and food availability. Women, who play a crucial role in food production, processing, and household food security, bear the brunt of these impacts. Reduced incomes, food insecurity, and malnutrition disproportionately affect women and their families, perpetuating social and economic inequalities.
Women’s representation and participation in decision-making processes concerning energy policies and investments are often inadequate in Central Asia. This results in gender-blind energy planning and implementation, neglecting the specific needs and perspectives of women. It is therefore essential to ensure women have a voice in shaping energy policies, strategies, and projects to create sustainable and inclusive solutions to mitigate the gender disparities exacerbated by the energy crisis and transition.
Author: Saida Usmonova, IWMI