Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has called for more women inclusion in the nation’s extractive industry. She made the call, weekend, on the heels of the 2019 International Women’s Day with the theme: ‘#BalanceforBetter.’
Ahmed said in a statement by her Special Adviser (Media and Communications), Mr Paul Abechi, that women possessed great potentials, which could transform the extractive industry value chain but largely underutilized.
According to her, government needed to develop policies, regulatory frameworks and programmes that target women, so as to remove the socio-economic and cultural barriers that prevented them from participating fully in, and benefiting economically from the extractive sector.
She said: “Evidence shows that gender-neutral policies are often applied ways that exclude and disenfranchise women stakeholders and other vulnerable communities.
“Governments need to develop policies, regulatory frameworks and programmes that target women, so as to remove the socio-economic and cultural barriers that prevent them from participating fully in, and benefiting economically from, the extractive sector.
“Women must have a seat at the table to participate in decision-making in the sector more generally, as well as, to contribute to the development of gender-inclusive strategies more specifically. They must also be given the support and tools with which to participate, and women’s views must be taken into account at the project and community levels.
“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 extractive sector will empower women economically, resulting in stronger economies overall. According to the World Bank, extractive companies with women in leadership positions see 5-20% 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 extractive industry through inclusive financing structures and improved access to information and opportunity across the industry value chain.
“Supporting women in the extractive sector will lead to improved and more sustainable economic, social and environmental outcomes, and move us all one step closer to realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
She expressed concerns over what she described the extractive sector as “traditionally male-dominated industry, the extractive 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 further stated: “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 dis-aggregated 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.
“It also ensures transparency and accountability and allows for citizens to engage with issues affecting the inclusion of women and other vulnerable communities. For example, requiring companies to disclose employment statistics dis-aggregated by gender would help inform more inclusive hiring practices.
“As we consider the importance of data disclosure, we must also ensure that women are given equal opportunities to access data, and that data is dis-aggregated along gender lines where possible. This will ensure greater transparency and accountability in line with the principles of the EITI.”
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