Apparently, the extractive sector has the ability to transform lives through development that comes from the utilization of extractive revenues. However, in our conversations around development, it becomes fundamental to x-tray the different dynamics as they affect men and women.
Nigeria’s experience just like other African countries has shown that women and children are mostly affected by the environmental hazard coming from extractive activities, particularly in the mining sector.
The most concern is that in spite of the adverse effect on women, evidence across Nigeria and other African countries shows women do not participate in consultation and decision making regarding extractive activities in their community.
In some communities, existing practices deny women ownership of land and do not allow them entitlement to compensation from extractive companies who have destroyed their farms and taken over their farmlands. In Eastern Nigeria for instance, women do not have the right to land and whatever compensation that comes from the land goes to the male child.
A visit to some of the quarry sites at Bwari and Kuje Area Councils in Abuja shows the strong involvement of women in the extractives sector. In spite of their huge involvement, they benefit less than men.
What is seen in most of the quarry sites are widespread and long-term patterns of economic exclusion, exploitation, and human rights abuses that are disproportionately borne by women and children.
Thus, there is the need to guarantee that both men and women have equitable access to the benefits from their natural resources.
Our collective push for women’s benefit from natural resources no doubt will add to broader development goals and facilitate the realization of their economic and political empowerment.
At the MAWA FOUNDATION, we appeal to all civil society and policymakers to play an active and pragmatic role in addressing gender issues in the extractives sector.
Even as Nigeria moves toward massive investment in its mining sector, we are yet to see clear state policy on protecting women in the extractive sector. The state ought to know that the extractives sector impacts women and men in a different way. Thus, it is fundamental to put in place a policy, legal and regulatory framework, which acknowledges and responds to these differences.
As we begin to push for local content policies, we must prioritize ways to ensure women and children benefit and participate in the extractive activities.
And in those efforts, we must use our democratic space which is the only platform to negotiate and discuss our development to abolish all laws and practices that restrict women’s inheritance or land ownership, which has over time denied women the right to participate and enjoy extractive benefits.
– Audu Liberty Oseni