Gender and Extractives

2. Key issues for Government 

As stewards of their country’s natural resources, governments have an obligation to lead the way in ensuring that the extractives sector offers benefits to women as well as men. It is crucial that governments and their development partners challenge the assumption that what is good for men will in turn be good for families and communities. Women can and do benefit from the extractives sector, however governance of and interventions within the sector must be based on a thorough understanding of the context and the specific gender dynamics at play. This section will consider some of the key issues for governments in integrating gender considerations into their regulation and management of the sector.

Evidence and Knowledge Base

A good starting point in the effort to integrate gender considerations into sector governance and management is establishing a strong evidence base. This is required to underpin understanding of the issue of gender equality in the extractives sector in the context of a particular country. Governments can undertake or work with industry partners to undertake a gender sensitive baseline and social mapping to understand how extractive industry operations impact women. Inter-ministerial coordination may be required to establish the relevant information on women’s economic and political empowerment and the constraints that must be overcome. Fair consultation as part of good governance of the sector will help develop this evidence base.

Key Questions and Considerations:

  • What existing sources of data are there? Is data held by different Ministries, international partners and donors accessible?

  • What opportunities are there for government to collaborate with the private sector and with civil society in establishing this evidence base?

  • Is the evidence accessible to relevant decision makers? Ensuring that knowledge is shared across the relevant institutions and with sector stakeholders will help ensure there is an understanding of the gender issues within the sector.

Strategic sector development

Developing a country’s extractives sector requires clear vision and direction and governments will often develop a strategy for the sector. A strategy can steer the long term development of the sector and set out the ways in which citizens can expect to benefit, be it through employment, revenues for social services. A sector strategy provides a logical starting point for exploring and agreeing good ways of integrating women into the sector and mitigating the risks the sector can pose. A well thought out strategy must clearly understand and acknowledge the way the sector can and will impact women, directly and indirectly. Some governments, like Papua New Guinea, have gone further to establish specific action plans for women in the sector. This is also a good option for ensuring the needs and experiences of women are recognised and addressed. 

Key Questions and Considerations:

  • Are there national or regional strategies or action plans on gender equality and women’s inclusion in the economy? Does the strategy align to this?

  • Is there scope to establish a cross government action plan on women in the sector?

  • Are the strategic targets clear and measurable?