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Access is Not Enough: Impacts of Electrification on Women's Time Use in Guatemala and El Salvador Public Deposited

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  • The benefits of electrification are widely discussed in energy and development literature, but little research to date has studied the impacts of household electricity access on women in particular. Women make up the majority of the world’s poor and are also disproportionately affected by energy poverty because of their social status and domestic roles but understanding women’s poverty is difficult. While few measurements of individual poverty are available, country-level time use surveys provide an insight into productive use of time by measuring hours spent on remunerated and non-remunerated work. This paper uses time use surveys from Guatemala and El Salvador to examine how rural women’s time spent in paid work, unpaid household work, and leisure time is impacted by electricity access. The paper examines the current policies and status of women in these two countries and employs quantitative linear regression models using government surveys on time use and the household. Results show that electricity access significantly increases daily leisure time in both countries, but only in Guatemala is electricity access a significant indicator of increased paid work and decreased non-remunerated household work. Applying the capability approach to the topic offers an understanding of electricity as part of a multidimensional solution to gender inequality. Thus, findings suggest that electricity can potentially alleviate women’s poverty, but that societal support, like job training, may also be important in increasing productive use of time.
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