Dar es Salaam meeting brings women to the table on extractive industries

Date: 04 Apr 2013

A ministerial-level meeting on incorporating gender into extractive industries and natural resource management kicks off today in Dar es Salaam, bringing together 30 participants from government, civil society, and the United Nations. The two-day meeting marks the beginning of a new partnership between Publish What You Pay (PWYP) and UN Women.

UN Women East and Southern Africa Regional Director Christine Musisi explains that “we formed this partnership to raise awareness of the gender dimensions of the extractive industry and to explore ways in which women can play a central role in the governance of their communities’ natural resources.”

“It is important to critically assess three main issues: how women can effectively participate in the extractive industry across the mining value chain; how women can benefit — either as business owners, employees and benefactors of extractive industry revenue; and how the industry impacts women’s safety, security, livelihoods and health,” she adds.

“The views of women, who often suffer most from the adverse consequences of resource extraction must be taken on board,” PWYP Nigeria Coordinator Faith Nwadishi says. “Women are often the first to be affected when a mine opens up — not only do they risk losing their livelihood due to loss or degradation of land, but water bodies are also often polluted, leading to health issues. Women have to travel further — and expose themselves to risks — in order to get clean water for their families.”

The sudden arrival of transient male workers that accompany new extraction projects can leave women vulnerable to sexual exploitation and sexually transmitted disease. At the same time, high demand and an influx of cash can lead to a sharp increase in the price of basic food and household goods.

Participants will outline the key challenges and opportunities facing women’s rights and participation in this sector, as well as debate the latest issues in the field. One of the key outcomes of the workshop will be a joint plan for evidence-based advocacy and action to make the extractive industry more responsive to gender issues across the value chain.

“The particular impact of extractives on women has not been given adequate prominence until now. Women must have a seat at the table so that they can voice their concerns and ensure their views are taken on board,” PWYP’s International Director Marinke van Riet says. “If natural resources are to truly benefit all citizens, then we must ensure that women’s concerns are taken into account all along the value chain.”

Ms. Musisi adds: “Natural resources do not have to be a curse for women. Transparent management of natural resources that includes the gender dimension will ensure that extractives become the path to a brighter future for all.”