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Energy Poverty – women more likely to be affected than men

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In light of recent alarming statistics, a debate organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) urged the EU to adopt policies where gender is considered as a specific factor.

Energy poverty reflects gender inequality, affecting women more heavily than men, and the European Union can only fight this issue effectively by adopting a gender-aware approach in all its policies.

This is the main conclusion of the “Women in energy poverty” debate held by the EESC’s Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and Information Society (TEN) in Brussels on 9 November 2022, following the European Parliament’s initiative on the European Gender Equality Week.

“The statistics of women in energy poverty around the world are appalling. Today, given the start of the winter season and the rise in energy prices, the situation appears more pressing than ever,” stated Baiba Miltoviča, the TEN section’s president.

Also warning about the seriousness of the issue, Maria Nikolopoulou, president of the EESC Equality Group, underlined: “Energy poverty is a structural problem. It is not only related to energy prices, but also to people’s income, affecting the most vulnerable people, who are mostly women.”

Energy poverty makes the gender gap bigger and more serious worldwide; 1.3 billion people in developing countries live in poverty. Around 70% of these are women.

According to the latest research, women are more likely to fall into energy poverty as they are the main users and producers of household energy.

Katharina Habersbrunner, from Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), explained that women and women-led households were disproportionally affected by energy poverty for a number of reasons: physiological (heat and cold sensitivity), health (mental, physical and social stress), economic (gender pay, care and pension gap, single parents) and socio-cultural issues (gender roles, care work, decision-making and representation).

Women are more likely to be responsible for housework and cooking activities requiring energy sources. MEP Lina Gálvez Muñoz, member of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), believes that women’s tendency to assume care responsibilities and their precarious participation in the labour market are likely to bring about both income and time poverty because women generally have little time to look for information about support services.

Image: M-Rwimo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/…

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