Gender and Extractives

7. Women in affected communities

Women living near extractive sites should be an important stakeholder in community consultations and decisions on resettlement and compensation. However women are often left out of consultation processes. This can lead to projects and policies that make existing inequalities worse and disadvantage women. For example, when women are excluded from community consultations they are less likely to know about grievance procedures should they be negatively impacted by the extractive operations. Where compensation money is paid to families, women may not have access to or control the compensation spending. Whilst women are often primary land users, men most commonly hold land title and compensation therefore does not reach the most affected parties.

The extractives sector also poses health risks and risks of sexual and gender based violence. The development of an extractive operation can increase the money flowing into a community, which has the potential to have destabilising effect on social relations. In Uganda, a study looking at gender issues in the oil and gas sector found respondents identified a link between the extractive industry and increased prostitution, domestic and sexual and gender based violence (see International Alert, What’s in it for us? Gender issues in Uganda’s oil and gas sector). An extractive operation will often lead to an influx of workers, which can bring with it increased prostitution putting women at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS. In some countries an influx of new workers can limit women’s mobility outside the home, making it harder for them to access education and healthcare. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has been argued that sexual violence has been used strategically against female ASM workers to control mineral rich areas.

Underpinning many of these issues is the burden of women’s unpaid work: from childcare and care of elder family members, to healthcare, to domestic chores, to subsistence agriculture. Extractive industry operations can cause environmental degradation, which increases the time it takes for collecting water, preparing food, small scale farming – all traditionally women’s tasks. Land can be lost through development of industry infrastructure and contaminated through extractive operations. The presence of extractives operations can commoditise land and encourage land grabbing and whilst the availability of productive land may reduce, women’s duty to feed the household does not.

Extractive industry operations can stretch the burden of women’s unpaid work reinforcing women’s time poverty, whilst at the same time being effectively subsidised by this unpaid work.

Explore the Extractives Hub Community Development Topic.