Women in energy poverty

Energy poverty exacerbates gender gap worldwide. It is estimated that 70% of 1.3 billion population in developing countries living in poverty are women. Research has shown that women are more likely to fall into energy poverty as they are the main users and producers of household energy, due to economic, biological/physiological and socio-cultural factors. For instance, older women are the most likely to suffer from energy poverty due to a higher life expectancy and lower pensions compared to men. Women are also more likely to be responsible for householding and cooking activities requiring energy sources.

In the EU, there is little data available on the impacts of energy poverty on men and women. Only few Member States have adopted definitions of energy poverty and energy poverty indicators, but they do not usually consider gender. Nonetheless, some statistics exist which show a tendency of women being more affected by energy poverty than men. For instance, a study carried out in 2016 in Barcelona showed that 70% of the subsidies granted by the Social Services to fight against energy poverty were granted to women. The risk of energy poverty is higher in single-parent families – 80% of them are made up of women. 

In this framework, a gender-aware approach to address energy poverty needs to be reflected in EU policy. In 2016 already, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on access to energy calling for a gender dimension in all energy policies, focusing on women with particular needs. Today, given the start of the winter season and the rise in energy prices, the issue appears more pressing than ever.

From 24-30 October, the European Parliament is holding a Gender Equality Week during which all parliamentary committees and delegations are invited to hold events addressing gender inequality issues in their areas of competence. In this framework, the EESC Equality Group is applying the same concept.  Therefore, the TEN section is holding a debate aiming to frame energy poverty in terms of gender inequality. The objective of the debate is to identify concrete civil society proposals to tackle energy poverty through a gender lens.