International Women’s Day: Women unduly excluded in extractive sector- Minister

Zainab Ahmed
Zainab Ahmed

To commemorate the international women’s day, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, is seeking the inclusion of women in policy-making and to be adequately represented in the extractive industry.

In a statement by her spokesperson, Paul Abechi, the minister also said the government needs to develop policies that target women, in order to remove the socio-economic and cultural barriers that prevent them from participating fully in the extractive sector.

Mrs Ahmed said the potentials of women are left unexploited as they are not being utilised to revolutionise the extractive industry despite their huge number.

The day is marked every March 8, and is used to recognise the strategic contributions made by women in different fields of endeavor in shaping the society.

The United Nations Organisation, UNO, began celebrating International Women’s Day in the International Women’s Year, 1975.

The official said gender-neutral policies are often applied in ways that exclude and disenfranchise women stakeholders and other vulnerable communities as shown by the evidence.

“Government needs to develop policies, regulatory frameworks and programmes that target women, to remove the socio-economic and cultural barriers that prevent them from participating fully in, and benefitting economically from, the extractives sector,” she said.

For women to participate in making decisions in the sector to contribute to the development of gender-inclusive strategies, “they must be having a seat at the table,” she said.

She said if government supports women in the extractive sector it will lead to improved and more sustainable economic, social and environmental outcomes, “and that is likely to move the country closer to fulfilling the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.

“By empowering women and ensuring their full participation in leadership and decision-making roles, we can ensure; increased transparency and accountability at all levels; more inclusive partnerships at the community level, leading to better protection for the most vulnerable; and stronger emphasis on addressing the industry’s environmental impact.

“A gender-balanced and inclusive approach to the extractives sector will empower women economically, resulting in stronger economies overall. According to the World Bank, extractives companies with women in leadership positions see 5-20 per cent more profit and more robust corporate governance and transparency.

“It is important to promote the participation of women-owned small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the extractives industry through inclusive financing structures and improved access to information and opportunity across the industry value chain,” she said.

More concerns

She expressed her concerns over what she described in the extractives sector as “traditionally male-dominated industry, the extractives sector has been particularly susceptible to gender bias and systematic discrimination across its value chain. Women are underrepresented at all levels, particularly in national and international leadership roles.”

She said women are often not consulted by governments and companies during community engagements at the project level due to lack of information.

“In shaping the sector and they are less likely to benefit economically. There is also an insufficient pipeline of women and girls with the necessary educational background and work experience to enter the sector. At the project level, women are often not consulted by governments and companies during community engagements, in part due to structural barriers such as lack of information.

“These challenges are amplified by a general lack of policies and regulatory frameworks aimed at identifying and protecting the rights of women and ensuring equal representation and access across the sector.

“The lack of credible and readily available data – particularly disaggregated data – means that governments, companies, and other stakeholders are limited in their ability to make informed decisions and develop gender-responsive policies, programmes, and budgets to tackle inequalities.

“Data disclosure is critical to improving gender inclusion because it provides governments, companies and other stakeholders with information needed to identify areas where women are disproportionately underrepresented or marginalized. Only then can they respond with the necessary interventions,” she added.

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