Hivos/ENERGIA, EnDev and MECS launch Gender and Energy Innovation Facility

Hivos/ENERGIA, EnDev, and MECS are delighted to announce the creation of a joint Gender and Energy Innovation Facility, a new space aiming at developing, testing and evaluating innovative approaches to address persistent gender challenges in energy access.

Innovation to overcome persistent gender barriers and reinforce sustainable development

Energy access is fundamental and essential for satisfying basic human needs, reducing poverty, safeguarding our health, and pursuing educational and economic opportunities. However, with worldwide 789 million people without access to electricity and 2.8 billion without access to clean cooking solutions[1], the world is off-track in meeting universal energy access for all. Advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in relation to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 on universal access to energy and SDG 5 on gender equality, requires a better understanding of women’s and men’s specific needs for modern and clean energy services and products. Women often face persistent challenges in energy access and modern cooking. This limits their full participation and locks their socio-economic potential to pursue income-generating activities, scale up existing clean energy businesses and advocate for their independence, agency and rights. 

To unleash women’s economic potential, we need a systemic change that enables an equal female and male participation and development. Throughout our work on the ground, we have seen a lack of experimenting, deviating from the norm, thinking outside the box, reconsidering and transforming business as usual approaches to spur progress towards a more inclusive, gender-sensitive and clean energy sector. Gender innovation, i.e. gender approaches, processes, practices for energy access is almost an unexplored area. With this in mind, Hivos/ENERGIA, EnDev and MECS have established the Gender and Energy Innovation Facility, aiming at promoting new insights to overcome some persistent and tenacious challenges to scale up energy access in a gender-inclusive way.

Towards a sustainable, inclusive and gender-balanced development

The Facility will initially run for 18 months, counting with a budget of roughly €800,000. Through a closed call for proposals, a maximum of 17 innovative projects in three countries will be selected to receive financial support to develop, test and evaluate their proposal, aligned with the three project domains. A first bootcamp is planned to be held in Kenya. Diverse actors will be brought to the same table to discuss, integrate and develop their project ideas. The project ideas will be implemented and tested to determine which innovations work and could be scaled up. After implementing the pilots, a few proposals will be selected for further, tailored support to transition to scale.

The Gender and Energy Innovation Facility will strengthen our collaboration and partnership to spur progress towards SDGs 5 and 7, and other interlinked goals. It is our hope that the findings and learnings will inspire and guide other organizations, partners, governments and practitioners to develop and test new approaches, and support the transition to scale up of innovations to spur energy access. We also hope that our reflection will serve as an additional stimulus to rebuild our societies on more equal, sustainable, inclusive and resilient values.


[1] IEA, IRENA, UNSD, World Bank, WHO. 2020. Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report. World Bank, Washington DC.