I recently had the opportunity to present results from the qualitative element of EVALUATE’s fieldwork to two very different audiences. First, I attended the ‘hopefulNESS’ 2017 conference in Tampere, Finland, where I presented some emerging findings on the gender aspects of energy poverty in the ‘Global North’ context – based on analysis and writing I have been doing in collaboration with Saska Petrova. Gender is an issue that has been widely explored in relation to the experience of energy poverty in the Global South, where it is well known that, for example, women disproportionately suffer the harmful consequences of inadequate access to electricity. However, in the industrialised nations of the Global North, gender is an issue that has (surprisingly) hitherto been unexplored. Our findings from the EVALUATE project begins to address this gap, elucidating some of the ways that gender is intertwined with how energy poverty is (often unequally) experienced within the home. The presentation received an excellent response from the audience, who really engaged with lots of insightful questions and comments, particularly in terms of the ‘co-constitutive’ relationship between energy poverty and household gender relations.
A week later I gave a similar presentation to a meeting of Greater Manchester Authority’s ‘Housing Retrofit Group’. Again there were some very insightful comments and suggestions from the audience, including issues around the control of household finances, the complexity of power and decision-making within a household, and the extent to which the findings apply to the UK context. The implications of the findings for UK policy-makers at a local and national level was also reflected upon.
It was really useful to present to such diverse audiences with different priorities and interests, but very encouraging that the topic really seemed to interest both groups. Saska and I will continue our work on the gender-energy poverty nexus – which we are very excited about as it is almost completely unexplored in the academic literature – with the aim of submitting a journal paper very soon. Watch this space for further updates!