The nights are getting colder and the early morning chill is not much fun either. I gave in last week and have my heating turned on for about 30 mins in the evenings on a low setting. I know of many mothers who make it a point not to turn on their heating till the weather gets much colder for fear of high energy bills. I do wonder how mothers will cope this winter after the reported increase in energy bills.

While big business has the advantage of the capitalist system in reaping yet more profit mothers have to decide between heating or feeding your children which is a prime example of the illusion of choice thrown up by the capitalist system. Shades of ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea’ infiltrate the so-called choice lifestyle that we lead. Why is it that energy companies do not face the same ‘choice’ in either keeping prices stagnant or lowering them?

Mothers have a vested interest in the energy debate because of the number of electrical appliances that we run in the process of keeping the family fed, washed and clean clothed. From first thing in the morning when we boil a kettle, turn on the boiler for hot water till last thing at night when the dishwasher is turned on we are perpetual shareholders in the energy industry. Energy is a feminist mothering issue. In this context it is important to understand the conditions and difficulties of mother’s lives especially in times of austerity and the resultant reduced earnings.

Following the conviction of the Delhi rapists for the utterly evil crime against a young Indian woman in December 2012 there is a call for street lights to be installed in an effort to improve safety measures. The report titled ‘Invisible Women’ which is due to be published advocates for a gender stake in the infrastructure economy of India.

The lack of proper public provision in the form of reliable public transport, street lights, and toilets have been allegedly designed with the male user in mind. Female toilets in India, according to the report, are ‘dark and unfriendly’ and often close at 9pm. In rural places women often have to walk a distance to an outside toilet and rapes are often committed on the pathways. A high number of these cases have been reported in the state of Bihar which has high poverty levels.

The Indian nobel laureate Amartya Sen has written about India’s toilet problem in his latest book ‘An Uncertain Glory’. Sen said that: “Half of all Indians have no toilet. In Delhi when you build a new condominium there are lots of planning requirements but none relating to the servants having toilets. It’s a combination of class, caste and gender discrimination. It’s absolutely shocking. Poor people have to use their ingenuity and for women that can mean only being able to relieve themselves after dark with all the safety issues that entails.”

While toilets may not be a huge problem in the UK safety fears have been, nevertheless, raised over cuts being made to street lighting as part of councils’ savings measures. The Labour Commission on Women’s Safety produced a report in 2012 titled ‘Everywoman Safe Everywhere‘.  There is a section on  ‘Community Safety’  which states that ‘perceptions of insecurity in the community often disproportionately impact women and that women are twice as likely to feel unsafe on their journey to work as men…’ It further goes on to state that half a million street lights have been turned off in the UK. 

Women have a stake in every facet of development and the sooner that policy makers realise that gender limitations are ‘man-made’ the safer the world will become for us.