In 2006, Uganda discovered oil. Since then, the question on everybody’s lips has been whether this discovery will prove a blessing or a curse. Will all of Ugandan’s citizens benefit from the country’s natural riches? How can Uganda prepare itself to ensure a transparent and responsible management of its natural resources?
When we talk about ‘citizens’ it is important to remember that we are not only talking about men but women too, who in many cases have a very different experience to men when it comes to the extractive sector. The exploitation of natural resources has an important gender dimension to it, one which it is necessary to address if we want resources to truly benefit all citizens.
PWYP member in Uganda Global Rights Alert has been working on gender issues within the oil sector for some time and runs a programme that offers advocacy training to women living in extractive communities.
Global Rights Alert has published a report, covering the Hoima and Buliisa districts, which assesses the impact the discovery of oil has had on women’s lives, their participation in the oil sector and how that participation could be increased.
For their report, GRA conducted a survey of 151 women living in these districts. They found that women remain on the outside of several aspects of natural resource management, for instance only a third were able to take part in the community consultations about compensation. Other obstacles prevent them from making the most of the economic opportunity an extractive project throws up – for instance no transport is provided to the site from local communities. As women have to stay with their families and cannot stay in camps like the men, the lack of transport inhibits their ability to take up jobs offered around the site. Their economic opportunities remain peripheral to the project, although the women did state that these opportunities had increased with the arrival of the industry.
As well as exploring how women experience the effect of the arrival of the oil industry oil extraction, the report lays out some recommendations for how to improve women’s participation in – and therefore ability to benefit from – the oil sector.
A lot of it boils down to access – to training, credit and information. Suggested training courses ranged from business skills to finance literacy so that women can best capitalise on economic opportunities created by extraction. Linked to this is the proposal that women be given access to capital via microcredit facilities, as well as access to the market itself. Finally, increased transparency and accountability will empower women with the information they need to be able to influence decisions.
Read the report in full.