The main objective of this study was to conduct a project-level gender assessment in the city of Lutsk in Ukraine in order to: i) better inform the design and implementation of EBRD investments; and, ii) identify gender aspects and priorities in relation to the use of district heating (“DH”) services and other sources of heating, given the gender division of labour, and women’s responsibilities for care work within the household.
Decision making on the use of heating services appeared to be jointly made by men and women and the study did not reveal any gender differences with regard to the preferred source of heating. Both women and men in the city of Lutsk appeared to be involved in decisions related to heating. Both women and men prefer district heating services compared to other heating sources as it was considered reliable, comfortable and requiring less work than using coal and wood. However, due to the extraordinarily difficult heating situation at the time of the study there was considerable anxiety among both women and men with regards to the reliability and tariffs of district heating and other sources of heating.
The quality of district heating services seemed to affect women more than men, resulting in women being more active in submitting inquiries and complaints to the local district heating provider. Generally insufficient access to heating services and the length of the heating season affected women more than men, as women often spent more time at home looking after children, elder people and People Living With Disabilities (PLWD), and doing housework. However, men were also concerned about their families’ situation related to heating and overall there was no significant difference in women and men’s levels of satisfaction with district heating. Most households with district heating were relatively satisfied with the services. There were clear indications that most heating-related inquiries and complaints were submitted by women, which can be seen as a result of women being more affected by the quality of the heating services than was the case for men. Furthermore, women appeared to appreciate that most staff receiving complaints and inquiries through the telephone hotlines were women employees. Apparently, there was no significant difference in the topics on which women and men submitted complaints and inquiries.
The gender assessment revealed relatively high interest among both women and men in consumption-based energy regulation. Both women and men interviewed indicated a high preference for having thermostats and meters installed for temperature regulation, payment according to actual consumption and possibly reduced heat bills. Some low-income households may, however, not be able to afford the installation of thermostats and meters – which could perhaps be afforded if payment in installments was made possible. This was especially the case since the energy crisis and the 2015 increase in tariffs in Ukraine. Women were often responsible for paying heat bills and in several cases had the most detailed knowledge of the costs of heating.
Employment in the district heating sector remains male dominated, particularly in technical and management positions. The percentage of women employees in the Lutsk district heating company (Lutskteplo) stood at 41 percent. The gender segregation in the company’s workforce was apparent with most technical staff being men, while women occupied mostly customer-relations, financial, administrative and boiler operator positions. The highest percentage of women was found in the boiler operator positions where 82 percent of the workers were women. Women headed some of the non-technical departments, while men occupied four out of five top management positions. Some good practices for employing women in specific positions were identified, including women’s employment for boiler house operator positions and in the sales department with responsibility for visiting households for meter reading. Also, nearly all dispatchers in charge of the telephone hotlines were women, which was appreciated by many women pensioners and other women submitting complaints.