GBV and Electricity: What’s Light Got to Do With It?

Power Africa shines a light on gender-based violence

WATCH: GBV and Electricity: What’s Light Got To Do With It?

A pandemic affecting upwards of one in three women globally, gender-based violence (GBV) touches every facet of society, including the energy sector. During this year’s Digital Energy Festival, Power Africa co-hosted a panel with the International Finance Corporation’s Energy to Equal program highlighting the potential for the energy sector to mitigate and respond to the gender-based violence crisis globally and specifically in sub-Saharan Africa.

The panel opened with Adaku Ufere, Deputy Chief of Party for Power Africa’s West Africa Energy Program, offering an exploration of the relationship between GBV and the energy sector.

“When we consider the stark statistic that one in three women globally are impacted by GBV, it is impossible to suggest that GBV does not impact the energy sector. Working in the energy sector, we must consider how (access to) energy can reduce GBV by enabling access to information, economically empowering women, improving their general and workplace safety and education, and through infrastructure development,” said Ufere.

This overview was followed by presentations from energy sector stakeholders highlighting new approaches to reduce and respond to instances of gender-based violence.

Screenshot Credit: African Utility Week

Electrifying GBV Response Clinics in Nigeria

While global attention focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, Power Africa identified the need to ensure reliable electricity for GBV response clinics within the context of electrifying essential services. MK Balaji, Off-Grid Team Lead for the Power Africa Nigeria Power Sector Program, shared how Power Africa worked with U.S.-based Fenix International, a subsidiary of Power Africa partner ENGIE, as well as Greenlight Planet to garner the donation of 110 solar home system units for use in GBV response centers, primary healthcare centers, and for essential workers to use at home. Electrifying GBV response centers allows them to remain open longer thereby expanding access to life saving services.

Providing GBV Support Services in Kenya

Noting an increase in GBV in Kenya during the COVID-19 pandemic, KenGen, Kenya’s electricity generation company and a partner in USAID’s Engendering Utilities program, responded by providing access to GBV support services to their staff. Eva Atieno, Chief Human Resource Officer, explained how KenGen significantly increased efforts to share information about GBV, facilitated staff access to GBV response centers, and hired doctors and counselors to support staff as needed.

Promoting Gender Lens Investing

The final panelist, Marie Anna Benard, Technical Assistance Officer for Power Africa partner, responsAbility Investments AG, spoke to the ways in which investors are adopting gender lens investing principles. With support from Power Africa, responsAbility is piloting a gender-smart investing approach to one of their off-grid funds. This involves conducting a company assessment and benchmarking, and adopting comprehensive gender-related performance indicators, and gender-inclusive human resource policies.

Creating a brighter safer future

The panelists brought to light specific and actionable measures that various stakeholders across the energy sector can take to mitigate and respond to the gender-based violence. Power Africa continues to work with its partners to raise awareness and implement creative solutions to combat gender-based violence. Together, with our partners we aim to create a brighter and safer future for all.

A U.S. Government-led partnership that seeks to add 30,000 MW and 60 million electricity connections in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 >