Does improving energy access create empowered women? Does it create gender equality? At present there is relatively little evidence to explain or support this relationship, in spite of claims made both by scholars and interventions implemented by development practitioners. In this presentation, I consider how women's organising around energy access is intertwined with and impacts on gender relations and women's empowerment. The evidence presented is based on two months of fieldwork with women in Hillview 2 informal settlement in Lavender Hill, Cape Town; who participated in a critical energy literacy intervention in the previous twelve months. Taking a feminist research framework, the seminar will reflect on how women attribute meaning to their energy practices, and incorporate this into personal and collective narratives. In doing so I will consider the extent to which energy access can be considered a catalyst for gender equality and women's empowerment.
Romy Listo is a PhD candidate with the School of Social Science and the Energy & Poverty Research Group at the University of Queensland, Australia. She has previously graduated from the University of Queensland with qualifications in international inequality and development, and community development. Romy has worked and volunteered with a range of community organisations and projects, and is currently active in the fields of sexuality and relationships education, and the prevention of violence against women in Australia. Her research interests include the nexus of resources and gender relations, and the prevention of gender-based violence.