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MECS Gender Framework

MECS Programme has developed a multi-dimensional framework to assess and monitor gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment in modern energy cooking services (MECS).

The gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment framework

The gender framework report identifies the gender dimensions in the MECS sector and presents a holistic framework to monitor progress on gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment in the MECS sector at the household and organization levels. The framework considers multiple gender dimensions:

  • The ability to access MECS.
  • The ability to access resources (co-benefits) related to the MECS sector (such as time and labour, safety and freedom of violence, health and well-being, knowledge, information and technologies, social capital, and financial resources).
  • The ability to exercise agency at the household level and public participation, and the freedom of movement.
  • The multi-level enabling environment (social, policy, economic, and environmental contexts) to ensure equal access to MECS and MECS-related resources, employment and leadership positions, as well as the ability to participate in the MECS transition.

The gender dimensions are organized and structured into four interconnected domains and 13 sub-domains (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: A proposed framework to assess and monitor gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment in the MECS sector – adapted from CCA and ICRW Social Measurement Tool and the WASH framework (Caruso et al. 2021a).

The proposed framework is based on the Social Measurement Tool that was developed by the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) and the International Centre on the Research for Women (ICRW) to measure how cleaner cookstoves and fuels empower women and create social change (CCA and ICRW 2016). The Social Measurement Tool is the most comprehensive tool that was developed for the clean cooking sector, however it requires further modification to fit with the significant progress and wider impact of the MECS sector. The framework also adapted the conceptual model that was established to monitor and achieve gender equality and equity in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector (Caruso et al. 2021a) . Both sectors, the MECS and WASH provide access to basic services and bring significant social, economic and environmental benefits for communities, specifically for women and girls. The CCA and the ICRW Social measurement Tool and the WASH gender equality framework were tailored and modified to align with SDG 5 and SDG 7 interlinkages (UNDESA 2022) and to fit with the context of the MECS sector. Gender-specific indicators and survey questions were designed to monitor and assess progress made in each domain and sub-domain at household and organization levels. Indicators and survey questions were influenced by the CCA and ICRW Social Measurement Tool, Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE), Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), and the national, regional and global tools and measures that were used to assess gender equality in the WASH sector (Caruso et al. 2021b).

Who can use the gender framework? Why? How?

  • Some indicators can be used to understand the local characteristics to tailor context-based solutions for MECS and improve the enabling environment and reshape existing structures and institutions to support and promote gender equality while other indicators can be used to measure progress made on each domain and sub-domain.
  • Applying the gender framework can assist in understanding gender inequalities and identifying opportunities to mitigate negative impacts on end users, employees and entrepreneurs in the MECS value chain.
  • The framework can help in understanding individuals’ (specifically women) needs and customizing MECS solutions that fit more with their needs and removing barriers that prevent them from engaging and participating in the sector.
  • Applying the gender framework can help project developers to identify new areas of empowerment, adapt projects to the local contexts and provide better services to ensure equal access to MECS and MECS-related resources.
  • Project developers can measure gender co-benefits by using the indicators and survey questions to demonstrate their contribution to SDG 5 and attract funding.
  • The gender framework and the gender impact data can help investors, donors, funders, and impact buyers to compare projects and make better decisions regarding which projects they will invest in.
  • Gender statistics in the energy and clean cooking sector are limited (UNDESA 2022). Using the MECS gender equality framework, indicators and survey questions and the consistency of data collection can improve the quality of data on gender issues which is needed to inform policy options and enable policy makers to make evidence-based decisions that can improve the overall sustainable development outcomes of MECS interventions.