Full Title: Estimating the Number of Women Household Biomass Producers, the Largest Segment of the Global Energy Labor Force
Author(s): Philippe Benoit and Siyuan Ding
Publisher(s): Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA
Publication Date: January 22, 2024
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While tens of millions of people work in formal energy jobs around the world, another group that comprises a massive and key labor segment in this sector is often overlooked: women and girls producing biomass to meet the basic energy needs of millions of poorer households across the developing world. Some 2 billion people rely on biomass for cooking (and some for heating), making those who gather it critical players in the global energy supply system. Women and girls in many developing countries constitute the majority of people collecting fuelwood for household consumption— an often strenuous and time-consuming effort— and estimating their number could elevate the importance attached to improving their working and living conditions. While some initial estimates of this labor force have been made, analyses remain superficial.
This report attempts to improve this deficit, providing a systemic albeit rough estimation, of the number of women household biomass producers. An analysis of clean cooking access rates, population figures, and average household sizes for both rural and urban areas in 92 developing countries estimates that 389 million women and girls undertake this work, which would represent the largest labor segment of today’s global energy system.