We interviewed Mὸnica Guiteras Blaya especially for you, see here the strong vision of this woman who strives every day to empower people affected by energy poverty
Mὸnica, if you had to sum up your vision of the fight against energy poverty in one sentence, what would you say?
“There will not be a just energy transition if people, affected by energy poverty, are not at the centre of the discussion”
You often talk about the role of women in this fight against energy poverty, why?
“Women and women-led households are disproportionately affected by energy poverty, yet women are strong actors in tackling energy poverty,” says Mὸnica. “We organise collective advisory assemblies to offer not only the tools needed to address energy poverty but also provide a network for these women to take action together with.”
How can all this work be replicated elsewhere in Europe?
“The network model and tools that we have created in EmpowerMed can be replicated in other countries and contexts, contributing to increased secure access to energy for all, but also energy savings and adequate consumption adapted to the climate and social circumstances we are living in”
Collective action seems to be very important to you, doesn’t it ?
“Together, the members of the collectives are very strong and the impact on their self-esteem and independence is fortified through the network,” says Mὸnica. “We promote practical solutions that can be implemented but it is also important that we advocate for policy solutions at all levels and equip those affected to lead the change.”
Thank you very much Mὸnica !
We now better know why it’s so important to vote for you
The award recognises outstanding activities led by women that, if replicated, help to advance the clean energy transition in Europe and contribute to the European energy and climate targets.
Monica and her organisation, Engineers without borders, are our partners in EmpowerMed. Their work is mainly focused on empowering women through collective advisory assemblies, which bring together people affected by energy poverty to transfer and exchange knowledge and skills for tackling energy poverty.
Collective advisory assemblies help to create peer-to-peer networks, through which people support each other and work with each other to seek solutions for energy poverty. In Barcelona pilot site these collective assemblies are implemented in collaboration with the Alliance against Energy Poverty and around 500 affected people, mostly women, take part in them every year
By being nominated as a finalist in the upcoming EU Sustainable Energy Awards, Mὸnica Guiteras Blaya is recognised for the joint work in alleviating energy poverty in coastal Mediterranean areas. Please, help us showcase Mὸnica’s work widely by voting for her and mobilising your networks to vote for her too!
“There will not be a just energy transition if people, affected by energy poverty, are not at the centre of the discussion,” claims Mὸnica Guiteras Blaya.
DG Ener and EmpowerMed project are happy to invite you to the EUSEW2021 policy session Gender justice in the energy poverty challenge in Europe!
The session will take place online on 27 October 2021 from 16.00 – 17.30 CET.
Women in all their diversity are disproportionately affected by energy poverty, yet are a strong actor against it. Currently, energy poverty policies are not paying sufficient attention, if any at all, to gender justice.
The policy session aims to clarify how women in all their diversity are disproportionately affected by energy poverty; explain the gender dimension as an inequality factor, as well as other axes of inequality and vulnerability intersecting gender in manifestations of energy poverty; and propose recommendations on how to make policies against energy poverty gender-just.
The policy session is designed to connect panellists from different sectors – academia, practice, decision-makers, gender experts / energy poverty experts – in a discussion on further solutions and policies for tackling energy poverty in a gender just manner.
Welcome and introduction – Martha Myers, Friends of the Earth Europe and Right to Energy Coalition
Theoretical state-of-the-art overview on gender justice and energy poverty – dr. Mariëlle Feenstra, University of Twente
Manifestations of how women are disproportionately affected by energy poverty in practice – Irene Gonzalez Pijuan, Engineers without borders
Factors that contribute to women being disproportionately affected by energy poverty and recommendations on how to tackle the challenge – dr. Anke Stock, Women Engage for Common Future
Pathways to making energy poverty policies in the EU gender just – Jutta Paulus, Member of the European Parliament
To take part in the policy session, we invite you to register here for EUSEW2021.
After a year and a half of COVID-19 pandemia, EmpowerMed project partners gathered for their second project meeting, which was organised in a hybrid manner. One part met in Vlora, Albania, while the other were attending remotely.
Partners discussed the progress of the project, and how to engage citizens and other stakeholders in the project activities for addressing energy poverty in practice during the Covid situation. The group agreed that the needs of the citizens affected by energy poverty are as important, and even more, in the Covid situation, as it was before and that the implementation of practical solutions and measures need to be done with increased efforts.
The meeting also opened a possibility to discuss the project’s advocacy activities, which need to start sooner than planned in order to make contributions to the discussions of the European Green Deal and Fit for 55 package. Project’s findings on gender aspects of energy poverty, summer energy poverty, health related issues and specifics of the Mediterranean region represent an important contribution to the ongoing European debates on energy transition, hence partners will strengthen their advocacy efforts.
EmpowerMed consortium extends big thanks to its Albanian partner, Milieukontakt Albania, for welcoming us in Vlora, their EmpowerMed pilot site, as well as to their local partners who support the work of EmpowerMed.
The present work aims to describe and analyze the results of the interventions carried out in the Barcelona pilot site of the EmpowerMed project. The overall objective of EmpowerMed is to tackle energy poverty and to help improve the health of people in coastal areas of Mediterranean countries, with a particular focus on women. The main support approach implemented in Barcelona is Collective Advisory Assemblies (CAA), in the framework of Alliance against Energy Poverty. CAA is an innovative, collaborative empowering engagement tool that offers an alternative to the more traditional one-off individual household advice and support approaches. CAAs take place together with a monitoring campaign where: electricity consumption is analyzed to optimize the supply contracts, and indoor environmental comfort to provide recommendations for wellbeing improvement. Through the different approaches, a characterization of the people that have participated in the Barcelona pilot site was completed, from a socioeconomic, energy, thermal comfort and air quality perspective. Additionally, it was compared with a group of energy poverty non-affected households, which are involved in the monitoring campaign. Finally, the impact was quantified in terms of empowerment of energy poverty population and, potential economic savings.
Authors: Joana Ortiz (IREC), Mariana Jiménez Martínez (IREC), Alba Alegría-Sala (Polytechnic University of Catalonia), Sergio Tirado-Herrero (ICTA- Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Irene González Pijuan (Enginyeria Sense Fronteres), Mònica Guiteras Blaya (Enginyeria Sense Fronteres), Lluc Canals Casals (IREC)
Keywords: energy poverty; collective advisory assembly; smart meters; thermal comfort; air quality; gender
Women and women-led households are disproportionately affected by energy poverty – a condition that worsens gender inequality, exacerbated by age, class and ethnic background among other factors. It is crucial to take a closer look at the relationship between energy poverty and gender. EmpowerMed’s just published a report to enable us such a look.
Find this “Energy poverty and gender – Facts and arguments” report here:
Big data analysis is becoming an increasing field of interest for research to analyse, identify and predict final user’s behaviour. For this reason, in the energy sector, smart metering is generally used to find new business opportunities and, theoretically, it is said that it could also help to fight energy poverty issues. Nonetheless, when tackling social injustice issues, the deployment of massive technology might also bring other side effects. This study analyses the capability of smart metering to mitigate energy poverty in Europe according to the current approaches of projects and the risks it might bring to the more vulnerable layers of our society.
The contents of the paper was presented and published in the IEEE Electric Power and Energy Conference (EPEC) in November 2020.
Municipality of Vlora (Albania) – In Albania, many households have seen their incomes decrease due to covid-19. Milieukontakt and its partners are working with households to empower and help them tackle energy poverty, and cope with their electricity bills while their incomes have decreased.
Entela, a committed woman in Albania and a strong energy auditor volunteer, agreed to tell us about her work and the lessons she learns from working with households in rural areas.
Testimonial suggested by our EmpowerMed partner: Milieukontakt Albania, serving society towards sustainability
Article suggested by our partner ESF (Enginyeria Sense Fronteres / Barcelona)
Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) – A recent agreement with authorities obliges multinational company Endesa to write off more than 28 million euros of debt in Catalonia. This represents 73% of the households debt accumulated since 2015. Endesa is also committed to contribute to a fund for future non-payments. This agreement closes the circle of Catalan Law 24/2015 that banned supply cuts to vulnerable households and was adopted through a push from civil society.
The Catalan Administrations and Endesa have signed at the end of March an agreement, which will allow thousands of vulnerable Catalan families – about 35,000 of them – to be released from the debtaccumulated from 2015 to 2020 with the company. Those families also have a guarantee not to accumulate new debts from now on. This is a historic agreement for low-income households.
The agreement addresses two major outstanding issues: the accumulated debt and future non-payments. Regarding the debt, Endesa will write off 100% of the unpaid bills for the vulnerable families between July 2015 and December 2018. The debt accumulated in 2019 and 2020, estimated at more than 21 million EUR, will be shared equally between the company and the administration. In total, it is estimated that Endesa will write off around 28 million euros (73% of the debt incurred by families since the entry into force of Law 24/2015). Regarding future non-payments, the creation of a Solidarity Care Fund is agreed, which will make it possible for the affected people to pay considerably less for their bills, thus avoiding the generation of new debts. Endesa and the administration will each contribute 50% to this fund.
The Alliance Against Energy Poverty (APE) and EmpowerMed partner Enginyeria Sense Fronteres (ESF) were the ones who organised to give a voice to the vulnerable families, who have lived in anguish for years because of the debt contracted with Endesa. For APE and our partner ESF, “It was a long journey, but the wait was worth it, because today another stone has been laid to eradicate energy poverty in Catalonia. After the great success achieved with the approval of the Law 24/2015, which prohibited supply cuts to vulnerable households, the first energy company in terms of number of customers in Catalan territory signs an agreement which, five years ago, was unthinkable.” The agreement also obliges the company to adjust the conditions and terms of the energy contracts of vulnerable families, so that no extra or unneeded costs are being charged with no reason.
This success story is made possible also thanks to the participation of several actors such as the Generalitat de Catalunya, through its departments of labor, social affairs and family and business and competitiveness, the provincial councils of Barcelona, Tarragona, Girona and Lleida, Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Metropolitan Area, and municipal and social entities.
This agreement will allow the vulnerable households to start from a scratch and get rid of this heavy backpack. The Alliance sees a better future for all these households: “We are aware that today is only a first step, an extremely important one, of course. From now on, we will continue working so that the Solidarity Care Fund is put into operation as soon as possible and no family accumulates debt with Endesa to face the same pressures as these 35,000 families.” Now, other processes to sign agreements with other major companies should follow in the coming months.
For the APE and ESF, this victory is one more step towards achieving that all citizens have their right to energy and water effectively recognized. This step shows that mobilised and empowered civil society can be an important actor in the fight against energy poverty.
As part of the efforts to raise awareness about the gender dimensions of energy poverty in Europe, EmpowerMed was featured in the ‘Making decarbonisations fair’ conference last March 1st, 2021. Project partners Katharina Habersbrunner (Women Engage for a Common Future, WECF) and Sergio Tirado Herrero (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, UAB) introduced the EmpowerMed gender and energy poverty factsheet and hosted an interactive online session on intersectional approaches to energy poverty alleviation with the more than 50 people that attended the session titled ‘Gender struggles: just approaches to energy poverty alleviation’. The discussion gathered participants’ recommendations for engaging with the four key stakeholders identified by the EmpowerMed project: national decision makers, health practitioners, social actors and utility companies. Participants highlighted, among other issues, the need for gender-disaggregated data at the sub-household level, male biases in energy poverty-related medical advice, and the dependency on social networks of women-led households indebted to utility providers.
The ‘Gender struggles’ session also provided in-depth presentations and commentaries byDr Nthabiseng Mohlakoana (Stellenbosch University), Dr Carmen Sánchez Guevara (Technical University of Madrid), Dr Saska Petrova (University of Manchester) and Professor Joy Clancy (University of Twente). In their contributions, guest speakers critically addressed the ‘home’ as highly gendered space and as a critical scale for tackling inequalities that hinder a gender-just (energy) transition. They also called for gender-just approaches to addressing energy poverty through targeted and context-specific tools rather than generic policy instruments. All in all, the session contributed to raise awareness about the gender dimensions of energy poverty and transitions and to create opportunities for networking across the research, civil society and policy communities that attended the conference. It was co-hosted by Mariëlle Feenstra (University of Twente) and EmpowerMed researcher Sergio Tirado Herrero.