International Women’s Day 2013: let’s talk about extractives

December 18, 2012 - 18:13
Author: 
Alice Powell

International Women’s Day in 2013 will be particularly interesting for PWYP as it will mark our first event with UN Women: a workshop designed to increase the understanding and knowledge of the gender aspects in the Extractive Industry.

We often speak of how the exploitation of natural resources has resulted in lost opportunities for development or the abuse of environmental and human rights. However, we have been less vocal about extraction in terms of its impact on women and their rights. Yet these impacts are considerable and merit examination.

Women are often the first to be affected by the adverse effects of natural resource exploitation. For instance, in many resource-rich countries women are subsistence farmers and lose their livelihoods when land is used for extractive projects or spoiled by pollution. Influxes of male works on projects have resulted in increased violence against women and girls as well as contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Furthermore, women need to be included in the conversation about extractives in order for policies or programs to have a real impact. Yet there are too few women working on extractives transparency as national coordinators or sitting on EITI multi-stakeholder groups.

We will be working in collaboration with UN Women in the future to help rectify this. The first milestone in this collaboration will be the workshop on the International Day of Women. However, we will also be conducting a gender analysis of the extractive industries using a PWYP Chain for Change approach and carrying out joint action-research, among other plans.

At our Ten Year Anniversary Conference in Amsterdam, PWYP women discussed setting up a network to share their experiences. Last week, the first issue of the newsletter Voix des Femmes (Women’s voices), was published – it includes several articles on issues pertaining to natural resources from the point of view of women. (It is only in French at this stage, but we are in the processing of having it translated into English).

We are very excited about working on this issue and we’ll be keeping you up to date on developments.

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