Gender and Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform: Current status of research

Little is known about the gender differentiated impacts of fossil fuel subsidy reforms. This review takes stock of existing knowledge, identifies knowledge gaps and sets out plans for future research in this area.

By Lucy Kitson, Laura Merrill, Christopher Beaton, Shruti Sharma, Lucy Kitson, Laura Merrill, Andrew McCarthy, Chandrashekhar Singh, Ashutosh Sharma, Jyoti Parikh, Victoria Ihuoma Ohaeri , Tahreen Tahrima Chowdhury on September 26, 2016

This report explores current knowledge on energy subsidy reforms and gender through a review of existing literature.

First, it sets out the global context of energy subsidies, energy access and gender empowerment. It then reviews literature on gender, energy access, fossil fuel subsidies and mitigation measures related to subsidy reform, such as cash transfers. Finally, it provides an overview of these issues across three focus countries: Bangladesh, India and Nigeria, as well as case studies on Peru, Mexico and Morocco.

The review concludes that subsidy reform is a significant opportunity for Sustainable Energy for All and that poorly performing subsidies do not benefit impoverished women. At the national level, however, the removal of subsidies related to lighting and cooking fuels can negatively affect women's lives. As a result, governments should develop more information about the gendered impacts of reforms and, in the meantime, adopt a "precautionary principle," ensuring that reform plans are designed to safeguard women's access to clean household energy sources. The paper also sets out an agenda for future research on this issue in Bangladesh, India and Nigeria.

This is the first publication in the Global Subsidies Initiative project "Gender and Energy Sector Reform," funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and coordinated by the International Network on Energy and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA). For more information, see

Report details

Gender Equality
Focus area
IISD, 2016