EMPOWERING WOMEN TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST ENERGY POVERTY
The overall objective of EmpowerMed is to tackle energy poverty in the coastal areas of Mediterranean countries, with a particular focus on women, gender and health.
Adequate warmth, cooling, lighting and the energy to power appliances are essential services needed to provide a decent standard of living and health. Access to these energy services enables people to fulfil their potential and enhances social inclusion. Energy poverty can be seen as a situation in which a household lacks a socially and materially necessitated level of energy services at home. Estimates show that 57 million people in Europe cannot keep their homes warm during winter, 104 million people cannot keep their homes comfortable during summer, and 52 million people face delays in paying their energy bills.
Women and women-led households are disproportionately affected by energy poverty, yet women’s agency is necessary for acting against energy poverty. ‘Gender myths’ portray women in energy poverty as vulnerable, helpless or oppressed, but substantial evidence shows that women are autonomous agents of their lives and of change. Apart from empowering women to tackle energy poverty, EmpowerMed will collect and validate gender-disaggregated data related to energy poverty in order to enable a better understanding of women’s roles in addressing energy poverty.
Energy poverty has significant physical and mental health effects.
Health effects associated with energy poverty include respiratory and circulatory diseases and conditions such as flu, cold, arthritis and rheumatisms. Due to debts and payment of bills, energy poverty also leads to adverse psychological effects, such as anxiety, stress and depression. EmpowerMed will work to improve the health and wellbeing of people affected by energy poverty. While there is some knowledge on the health impacts of living in energy poverty, there have been very few cases in which health practitioners have actually been included in the efforts to alleviate energy poverty. This is why EmpowerMed will work to include health practitioners in tackling energy poverty.