For the oil and gas sector to deliver on development outcomes, gender considerations must receive adequate attention, Mrs Patricia Blankson Akakpo, a gender activist of the Network for Women's Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), has noted.
Mrs Blankson Akakpo, who was addressing a stakeholders meeting on Gender mainstreaming in the oil and gas policies in Accra on Monday, said an analysis of the oil and gas value chain in Ghana had tended to focus more on the scientific, technical and economic aspects.
She said in as much as scientific, technical and economic aspects of the oil and gas sector were necessary, other critical gender and social issues equally required the attention of policy makers, duty bearers and other critical actors.
She said there was the need to be interested in how power relations intersected with the oil and gas resources and how women and men of different socio-economic backgrounds were either enabled to or constrained from participating in the different sectors of the economy.
Mrs Blankson Akakpo said it was for these reasons that four women's rights organisations, with support from STAR-Ghana, were working together to implement a one-year project titled 'Women's Agency Strengthened to Demand Accountability, Equity and Transparency from Industry Actors for Improved Livelihoods.'
The project seeks to promote gender and social responsiveness in the Oil and Gas Sector, through increased participation of women and the socially-excluded groups in the Oil and Gas Sector policy formulation and budgeting, monitoring and evaluation in Ghana.
Two key results expected at the end of the project are mainstreaming gender into oil and gas sector policy and regulatory frameworks to protect the interests of women and other socially-excluded groups, particularly those in oil fringe communities in Ghana; and an enhanced capacity of women and the socially-excluded groups on oil and gas issues to demand inclusion and protect their interests in the two oil-fringe districts in the Western region.
NETRIGHT, the Federation of Women Lawyers in Ghana (FIDA), ABANTU for Development and Women in Law and Development-Africa (WILDAF) are the four organisations implementing the project.
The stakeholders meeting, therefore, sought to create a platform for engagement on gender and oil and gas issues with the critical actors within the oil and gas sector operations in Ghana.
The meeting also aimed to share knowledge products on gender and oil and gas which were developed under the project with stakeholders, and to agree on the way forward in terms of how the women's groups could continue working with these critical actors on gender considerations in the oil and gas sector operations in Ghana.
In a presentation at the meeting, Mrs Getrude Owusu, Coalitions and Partnership Officer of ABANTU for Development, noted that Ghana was a signatory to various international and regional protocols such as the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Africa Protocol on Women's Rights, for example, which were mandated to promote women's rights.
Mrs Owusu said compliance with such protocols should, therefore, be evident in all development sectors, including oil and gas.
She noted that as a result of the discovery of oil and gas in Ghana, a number of legal and institutional frameworks had been developed for the exploration, production and management of the industry.
However, she said, there was as yet no clear demonstration or commitment to gender responsiveness in those policy, legal and institutional considerations.
Mrs Owusu, therefore, called for the development of relevant gender tools and methodologies to enable various actors in the oil and gas sector to promote gender responsiveness.
Presenting a paper on the Assessment of Gender Gaps in the Petroleum Laws, Regulations and Policies of Ghana, Ernestina Naana Hagan, Legal and Gender Expert, South South Consult and Executive Director of FIDA-Ghana, stressed the need for Women to participate and benefit equally from the oil and gas industry.
Mrs Hagan, therefore, called on all strategic stakeholders to be fully committed to ensuring gender balance and equity in the oil industry and make deliberate efforts to enhance the capacity of women to participate effectively in the oil and gas industry.
She said there was the need to review all laws governing the oil and gas industry to become gender sensitive; ensure the equal representation of both women and men in decision-making bodies in the oil and gas industry; and to grant a greater voice to women in the management of revenue accruing from the oil and gas industry.
Mrs Hagan also called for the full disclosure of, and transparency in, all negotiated oil and gas contracts paying particular attention to gender issues and the provision of sex-disaggregated social and environmental assessment reports, oil spill response and clean up management plans.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)