Gender Equality and Energy Poverty in Albania

Key findings of the gender analysis of the energy sector in Albania with a special focus on energy poverty.

Along its fight against energy poverty in the coastal areas of Mediterranean countries – with an emphasis on women’s health,- EmpowerMed partners Milieukontakt and WECF together with gender expert Rezart Xhelo, conducted a gender analysis of the energy sector in Albania with a special focus on energy poverty. The findings of this analysis, focusing at first on the Albanian national level, revealed interesting paths to take, and opportunities to face, when it comes to gender inequalities in energy poverty.

In the process of integrating the demands of the European Union, Albania has endorsed a large program of strategies since 2009 and created structures following a mandate for advancing on gender equality. However, the yearly report by the European Commission (EC) on Albanian’s level of compliance to the EU acquis, – which includes its energy programs and policies,-  shows that none of the programs or measures include, or even mention, an interconnection between gender and energy poverty.

Did you know?

Source Gender and energy poverty: Facts and arguments, Apr. 2021, EmpowerMed. Available online:

Coherent policies are essential

In Albania, recent updates introduce the concept of energy poverty in the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), unfortunately the plan lacks concrete budget and measures to fight energy poverty and gender considerations are lacking behind. Addressing energy poverty in health, economic and social policies and legislation and its relation with gender equality is still in its early stages.  Ensuring coherent policies avoids the exacerbation of existing inequalities and the creation of new gender gaps.

Lack of awareness and understanding of the interrelation between gender equality and energy poverty from national institutions

The lack of focus on gender and energy poverty, and the correlation between them, within the national policies and actions dealing with gender equality, climate change, energy, health and social welfare, seems to be a consequence of both the lack of knowledge and possibly the understanding of the interrelation of gender equality and energy poverty. Women and men have different needs, concerns and priorities, assume different threats, and bring different perspectives, experiences and ultimately solutions to the issues of gender equality and energy poverty. Understanding the interrelation between gender and energy poverty is fundamental to the overall development and implementation of any policy measure and action response.

Sex and gender disaggregated data are knowledge – The power of sex and gender disaggregated data

Administrative data and INSTAT* surveys lack disaggregation to facilitate gender mainstreaming within the energy sector, e.g., in household survey, balance of electricity power, income and living conditions, household budget survey, etc., can be customized to offer data of energy access, affordability and use by gender. Having an overall picture of the population in its full diversity and its struggles is the first step to the endorsement of coherent programs and policies towards a gender-just society. To ensure mainstreaming of gender within the energy sector more emphasis should be put on enhancing gender relevant data collection. The purpose here is to improve the collection, availability, and analysis of sex-disaggregated data and the formulation of gender-related indicators, to help future decision-making processes. In order to feed analysis, data and statistics should also include factors other than gender, such as age, education, disability, urban or rural, etc. Gender may be a determinant of energy access and use, given household consumption patterns.

Source: Workshop on key findings gender analysis in Albania, Jan. 2022, R. Xhelo (INSTAT, Women and men in Albania, 2021)

Women’s representation and participation in decision-making

About 29.5% of the members of the parliament are women, and 56.3% women hold ministerial positions, in 2021. E.g., since 2019, the MIE is led by a woman minister. Two out of four deputy ministers are women, whereas the secretary general is a man. The Minister’s Cabinet is chaired by a woman and composed of 3 women and 4 men counsellors. In general, there is quite a balanced representation between women and men making decisions on energy related policies and action in the country. Yet, it is to be observed whether such a balance will lead to equitable and gender responsive policies and actions within the energy and infrastructure sector.

There is a broad public perception that if there are more women in decision-making positions, as a result, national policies and legislation are more likely to be improved to be more socially just and gender responsive. In addition, policies and legislation will not improve unless information and data is provided, training and capacity of institutions is expanded and gender and energy poverty issues are advocated for. Technical preparation and ongoing training and guidance to build further capacities of responsible institutions is required. These will intrinsically strengthen the ability to adopt new and innovative measures to track down impact factors of gender and energy poverty.

What’s next?

The analysis will be expended to a local level and will assess gender mainstreaming and energy poverty gender patterns in Vlora pilot site. Finally, EmpowerMed partners will develop fine-tuned policy recommendations and guidelines for relevant data collection, increase the institutional capability and participate in consultations for gender-sensitive and socially just energy policy framework.

Stay tuned!


Elderly living in the energy poverty condition.

The last cold days of January 2022 in Albania took the life of a 67 year old woman in Fieri City. She was living in difficult economic conditions, residing in a degraded house and with no possibilities to heat her room, due to a power cut by the utility company. The director of OSHEE in Fier, stated that the lady was without electricity because she was not able to pay the service. The tragic consequences from the cold weather, because of extreme energy poverty conditions in Albania are reflected especially at the elderly, of which 318 thousand persons are over the age of 65 years. (Referring to INSTAT report Population aging – the situation of the elderly in Albania) and their average pension according to the Social Insurance Institute is 86 EUR per month (urban pension is 110 EUR per month and rural one 76 EUR per month).

With this amount of pension, they must meet all vital needs for food, clothing, medicine, water, sanitation, and electricity.

According to the calculation made by an energy expert, heating a room during winter season with 9,000 BTU air conditioner consumes 1kW per hour. Considering keeping it at least working for 10 hours, 30 days in month it is equal to 300 kw / month. The price of 1 kW is 9.5 lek (according to tariffs approved by decision no. 252, dated 21.12.2021), thus for 300 kW of electricity consumed the amount is around 2,850 lek, being 25 EUR per month. What about other living conditions of elderly, in the sense of material wellbeing, poverty and access to specific housing conditions (electricity used to heat water, for cooking, washing, and ironing, etc.)

Only heating costs between 13-29% of the total amount of their pension. According to the EU standards, when energy consumption for heating exceeds 10% of a household income, it is then considered as an energy poverty condition.

Albania is one of the few countries that is supplied with electricity by one operator.  Countries such as Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia have the choice between electricity operators and customers can terminate a contract with an existing operator and connect with another when they are not satisfied with the service, or if another company offers more favourable conditions. In addition, when a household is not capable of paying the electricity bill (proven records), the electricity operator is not allowed to interrupt the power supply. Instead, the unpaid bill is accumulated as debt until the payment can be made.

These facts, figures and arguments are an alarm addressed to the responsible institutions and the Prime Minister of Albania: pensioners need the help of the State, to afford the electricity bill during the winter and summer season. They deserve attention, care and support and should be treated with dignity. The pensioners do not deserve the miserable fate of the woman from Fier.

*INSTAT: National Institute of Statistics of Albania

Authors: Rezart Xhelo, Katharina Habersbrunner, Valbona Mazreku, Marilys Louvet