As the world increasingly prepares for renewable energy transitions, the Lower Mekong Region (LMR) governments are formulating long-term renewable energy targets. However, achieving an energy transition in a region so dependent on fossil fuels is a monumental technical, economic, social and political challenge. The interests of global, regional and national elites often do not match the energy needs and environmental vulnerabilities of the poorest people, and there is no guarantee that the transition will transpire in a gender-sensitive and socially inclusive manner. Most renewable energy jobs are expected to be in manufacturing, construction and engineering: fields where women are significantly under-represented.

Male economists and engineers continue to dominate the energy sector, and while many of them may accept or even support the concept of gender equality, the relevance of gender to their work is poorly understood. Transitions to renewable energy may thus unintentionally exclude women and reinforce existing inequalities. Yet women – on equal footing with men – have the potential to realize a clean energy future.

To ensure that transitions to renewable energy are for all, it is crucial to identify how opportunities and benefits are distributed, and why they are distributed in those ways. This includes understanding how experiences of energy transitions are widely dependent on contingent identities including gender, class, age and ethnicity. Yet, gender disaggregated data and case-studies on gender and power dimensions in both the fossil fuel and renewable energy sector in the LMR are sparse. Based on detailed desk reviews and key informant interviews, this briefing based on recent work by SEI aims to close some of these research gaps.