Empowerment or employment? Uncovering the paradoxes of social entrepreneurship for women via Husk Power Systems in rural North India

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Abstract

Men continue to dominate the supply-side narratives of energy access projects, leaving an unexplored gap in gendered organizations. To fill this gap, the article utilises interviews with women workers to consider their lived experience working for an energy access-based organisation. Through the use of narrative analysis, this study highlights the importance of socio-cultural contextualisation of social entrepreneurial activities and social missions. It takes a persuasive case-study approach to analysing Husk Power Systems (HPS), which operates primarily in Bihar, India. HPS, a mini grid-based social enterprise, began its operations in Bihar in 2007 with the goal of ameliorating rural Bihar’s energy access problems and secondarily, empowering women through employment opportunities. Drawing on the concepts of women’s empowerment, social inequalities, and intersectionality, this article argues that although HPS provides formal employment opportunities, its presence has not secured long-lasting women’s empowerment in Bihar. As a social enterprise, HPS has limited capacity to reform social inequalities. Although HPS guarantees local job creation, we underscore further exploration of the intersectional dimensions influencing social enterprises’ energy access business operations’ longevity and impact, including those of local systems of power, caste, gender, and class.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102153
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Volume79
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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