Energy: A Part of Life That Is Far-Fetched From Women

It is a reality that women’s domestic realm is closely linked with energy. Inside a household, women are the first to deal with finding energy sources to support their families. In rural areas where there is no electricity, mothers would work themselves to collect firewood and kerosene for cooking and light their homes. In other words, women have an important role in finding the provision and using energy for daily life, including those of practical and economical alternative sources.

However, according to Indonesia’s Women’s Coalition, women’s participation in the energy sector still needs to be improved1. Based on data from the 2017 Indonesian Employment Report, the number of female workers in science, technology, and mathematics (STEM) only reached 30%2. According to the Indonesian Women’s Commission, there were two factors that contributed to this occurrence. First, local stakeholders tend to view women solely as uncritical energy consumers. For them, especially in rural areas, women only need to take care of the house and do not need to worry about other problems. Second, women’s interest to work in the energy-intensive engineering sector is still minimum. According to the study conducted by UNESCO, engineering is perceived as a “laborious” work for women3

Women, Key to Renewal Energy

Lilis, a female resident in Kluting Jaya, North Maluku, said that she could finally use the electric rice cooker in 2005. Lilis was one of the 20 million people in Indonesia who did not have access to electricity 4. As a result, fuel such as kerosene is used as an energy source, even though the smoke produced by its substance can endanger her health.

Data from WHO in 2012 shows that eight out of ten people in the Asia Pacific, where the majority of them are women and children, died prematurely from respiratory diseases due to pollution from burning indoor biomass. In 2013, Perempuan Kepala Keluarga who is Kopernik’s local partner introduced the solar home system (SHS) in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara, given the huge potential for solar power in the area. Rainfall in Lembata is only 85 mm2/year, thus, it is certain that the sun is scorching hot for most of the year in that area. One of the participants in the SHS making training, Mrs. Rovina, had succeeded in making a solar-powered lamp. She also began to introduce the product to the villagers and sell it. Reflecting on the case of Mrs. Rovina, providing training on energy to women had not only succeeded in equipping them to expand access to renewable energy sources that are free of harmful pollution but also in encouraging women to be independent. From the sale of her SHS, Mrs. Rovina, who is a single parent, is able to pay for her daily needs and pay the school tuition of her two children.

Another reason why the role of women is important in energy is that women belong to the grassroots group 5. Their movement is significant because they are originated from a place where finding energy for daily basis purpose becomes a challenge. In addition, these grassroots movements have the ability to come up with practical solutions to reach people who mostly live in poverty and remote area where it is difficult to receive energy services. These groups can be counted on to bring energy access to areas that infrastructure development cannot reach. On Java Island, the Indonesian Women’s Coalition for the Central Java region started the socialization of Renewable Energy (ET) which consists of mothers and other women’s organizations, such as the Catholic Women of the Republic of Indonesia (WKRI), and Muslimat. Additionally, the potential sources of ET in Central Java are very diverse, ranging from kitchen waste such as used cooking oil to human waste. 

On July 15, 2019, two big villages in Semarang, Central Java, namely Tegaron and Bener Village, conducted regular discussion by Balai Perempuan as the Information Center for Complaints and Advocacy for Clean Renewable Energy (BP PIPA ET). The aim of this meeting is to socialize the use of alternative energy sources in the village. The participating mothers were enthusiastic about learning to use used cooking oil as a source of ET as they thought that throwing away the remaining oil that has become cloudy is a waste.

What underlies the importance of the role of women in the energy sector is the realization of gender equality and inclusive development, as stated in the 5th and 10th Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).6. Concluded from the two goals, development should involve women, people with disabilities, people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), and vulnerable groups. In addition, increasing women’s participation is also contained in goal 7, namely providing access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.  7. In other words, by equipping women with skills in the energy field, they can be more involved in the sustainable development agenda which can improve the welfare of all parties.

Various Ways to Increase the Role of Women

Women’s participation in the energy sector is a form of women’s support for women. Advocacy for increasing women’s involvement in the energy sector and inviting men to support women’s empowerment has been pursued by various institutions, such as that carried out by the Indonesian Women’s Coalition and Commission VII DPR RI in collaboration with LIPI and YLKI8

In Jakarta and Salatiga, Gender Analysis Learning System (GALS) was organized in order to realize the initiation. The training, which was held in August 2018, is considered to be rather different. First, the activities are designed in such a way that illiterate people can understand gender. Not only that, but GALS also provides an opportunity for men to understand women’s ideals. As parties who are considered to have a higher position, men need to understand the importance of opportunities for women to develop and enrich themselves. With this opportunity, women will have ample space to learn new things, including the use of ET.

All these steps are taken so that women can participate in expanding energy access by becoming agents of the spread of renewable energy use by starting at home or even educating women around them. For example, Tegaron Village uses used cooking oil to fuel oil stoves and Mrs. Rovina from Lembata who created solar-powered lamps (SHS) would sell them to other villagers.


Ultimately, social and cultural factors play important roles in increasing women’s participation in the energy sector, especially to support them getting access to affordable and sustainable energy sources. Therefore, the local government needs to be aware of this and provide support for the socialization and education on renewable energy for women in a sustainable manner. Finally, women’s grassroots movement must always be positioned as important figures in expanding access to renewable energy as their concerns are linear with this field on a daily basis, and often intersect with their peers who have similar routines.

Written By: Ersya Safhira Nailuvar, Communication Intern Publish What You Pay Indonesia


  1. Anak, K., 2019. KEMENTERIAN PEMBERDAYAAN PEREMPUAN DAN PERLINDUNGAN ANAK. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed on 15 Maret 2021]
  2. International Labor Organization, 2017. Laporan Ketenagakerjaan Indonesia 2017: Memanfaatkan Teknologi untuk Pertumbuhan dan Penciptaan Lapangan Kerja/Organisasi Perburuhan Internasional. Jakarta: ILO Indonesia.
  3. 2015. UNESCO science report 2030. Paris: United Nations Educational
  4. Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia. 2017. Adakah Energi Bersih dan Inklusif untuk Perempuan?.[online] Available at: < Bersih-dan-inclusi-untuk-perempuan/> [Accessed 15 March 2021].
  5. SEMAI Untuk Keadilan Demokrasi, 2019. Perempuan dan Energi Terbarukan. [online] (Edisi Khusus). Available at: <> [Accessed on 16 Maret 2021].
  6. 2015. THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed on 17 March 2021].
  7. Ibid
  8. SEMAI Untuk Keadilan Demokrasi, 2019. Perempuan dan Energi Terbarukan. [online] (Edisi Khusus). Available at: <> [Accessed on 16 Maret 2021].