CANCELLED - Bringing anthropological perspectives to development practice: Solar powered electricity access: Implications for women’s empowerment in rural Kenya
Tanja Winther from the University of Oslo's Centre for Development and the Environment will join us for a seminar entitled "Bringing anthropological perspectives to development practice: Solar powered electricity access: Implications for women’s empowerment in rural Kenya".
photo: SUM, UiO
The seminar is open to all, including bachelor and master students. No registration is required. After the seminar, drinks and snacks will be served in our lunchroom.
Bringing anthropological perspectives to development practice: Solar powered electricity access: Implications for women’s empowerment in rural Kenya (Winther, Ulsrud, Saini 2018)
This paper examines the gendered implications of various types of electricity access in rural Kenya spanning from the central grid to solar-based systems such as community projects, village scale supply and private solar home systems (SHS). Drawing on material collected in Homa Bay and Kitui counties in 2016, the paper examines the gendered setup, organisation and eﬀects of solarpowered electricity access as compared with the central grid. The paper employs a framework for analysing women’s empowerment through electriﬁcation, which draws on Kabeer, Friedman as well as anthropology, socio-technical system theory and practice theory. The results show that people tend to cherish solar-based solutions whereas the grid is perceived to be costly, unreliable and unavailable. As to the gendered organisation of supply, men dominate within the grid, mini-grids and private suppliers, leaving an important potential for women’s empowerment untapped. Two community projects included women’s ‘hands-on’ participation and spurred local discourses about women’s capabilities. Access is also gendered on the user side. Because men tend to own the houses, have a higher income and a moral right to make major decisions, ﬁxed connections and high subscription fees provide women with less agency than what is the case in decentralised systems of supply.
Tanja Winther is Associate Professor at the Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo. With a background in Power Engineering (MSc) and Social Anthropology (PhD), her research centres on the social dimensions of energy, spanning from the social and gendered impacts of introducing electricity for the first time to sustainable energy consumption in rich countries. She has done fieldwork in Zanzibar (Tanzania), Kenya, Malawi, India and Norway and teaches at various levels in Norway and abroad. She currently leads the international project EFEWEE – Exploring Factors that Enhance and restrict Women’s Empowerment through Electrification, financed by DFID, UK.