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Opening Our Eyes

Abriendo los Ojos

Stephanie Rochford|

From gender blind to gender responsive natural resource governance

The evidence is clear: the exploitation of natural resources impacts women very differently to men. Women often have less access to relevant information and fewer opportunities to influence decision making. Extraction can undermine their livelihoods, such as farming, while offering them limited compensation, particularly in areas where customary practice systematically denies women ownership of land. Unequal labour division for domestic responsibilities – where women often carry a heavier burden – further reduce the opportunities for women to benefit from employment in the sector and may limit their access to settings where consultations or decisions on extraction of natural resources are being made.

Yet in recent years, Publish What You Pay (PWYP) has recognised that the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) – a key mechanism for advancing good governance of natural resources in more than 50 countries – and our own PWYP movement for transparency, citizen participation and accountability in the sector, have been gender blind.

This oversight can’t continue if we want natural resource governance to be truly accountable.

In response to growing recognition by women within the PWYP movement, and particularly in West Africa, that we can and should be doing more to advance women’s rights through the transparency and accountability agenda, PWYP launched a two year pilot project in 2018. The project aims to uncover the barriers preventing women from fully engaging with country-level EITI implementation, and how the EITI can be used to advance gender equality. It also explored what types of data are most useful for developing policy that mitigates the gendered impacts of extraction.

The findings to date reveal the lack of gender references in EITI texts and practice, with most actors involved in national-level extractive sector governance failing to raise or analyse gender issues through the different processes of EITI implementation. There are opportunities to improve the situation, and some important steps have recently been taken with the inclusion of specific references to gender in the revised EITI Standard (which will be adopted in June this year); but moving towards a natural resource governance that can have transformative impacts for women is an imposing task.

Visualising women’s realities

At the OGP Summit, PWYP is delighted to launch the research findings from the pilot project in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Senegal; and to be leading, along with key partners at the EITI Secretariat, Oxfam, NRGI, Global Affairs Canada and Development Gateway, a session to explore the role of OGP in contributing to this shared agenda of leveraging transparency for gender transformative outcomes. The session, “Open Government commitments for accountable and gender-responsive natural resource governance”, will take place on Thursday, 30 May at 1:40pm and will explore key gender-based challenges in the extractive sector, including through experiences shared by women directly impacted by extraction of natural resources. With the recent launch of its own gender campaign, OGP provides a dynamic platform for bringing to light issues of women and extraction.  [1]

Based on those experiences, and drawing on practitioner and academic research, we aim to put forward tangible proposals for gender transformative model action plan commitments to promote women’s meaningful participation in natural resource governance by bridging the women’s rights and transparency movements; addressing negative impacts of the extractive sector on women through responsive local decision making; ensuring that data is accessible and relevant to a diverse set of stakeholders, including women in extractive communities; and promoting resource allocation approaches that include, and would benefit, women. A key theme is ensuring that data is both accessible, relevant and actionable to all stakeholders, including women in extractive communities.

We hope that the discussion will increase understanding by a range of stakeholders of structural and behavioural barriers to, and opportunities to enhance, inclusive participation in governance initiatives; and a shared strategy among reformers in open government about how to use OGP and EITI to advance gender justice through natural resource governance.

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