Thinking of Gender Every Calendar Day

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It’s 2013 and already, my calendar for the year is filling up with activities, projects and events. But this year, I’m even more excited than usual to look up at my wall, because this year’s calendar focuses on the World Bank’s Gender and Extractive Industries (EI) program.  With a different cartoon each month, conceptualized by members of the Oil, Gas, and Mining team, the calendar features different dimensions of gender and the oil, gas, and mining industries, and the lessons we’ve been learning through our work in extractives-impacted countries and communities.

Gender and Extractive Industries, you’re thinking? Yes, at this point I’m accustomed to a slight tilt of the head, and inquisitive tone, from people who think they must have misheard: ‘Gender and mining, you say? What’s gender got to do with the extractive industries?’

I’m so glad you asked! As most of us know, the oil, gas, and mining industries can transform lives. They can drive economic growth, create jobs, reduce poverty, and lead the way for longer-term sustainable and inclusive growth, well past the close of extractives operations.

Without sound management, however, these opportunities may not materialize. Extractive industries can deliver more damage than benefit. Think of the ‘resource curse’ we hear about so frequently. The World Bank’s focus in this sector is to work with governments to realize the development potential of these sectors for the benefit of all communities impacted by them.

From Tanzania to Papua New Guinea to Peru, we have been learning about these communities, and how the extractives sector can positively or negatively affect development, and what will be required for sustainable growth.

Through consultations with men and women, gender-informed analysis, and programs targeting men and women in and around extractive operations, we have learned that men and women often have very different experiences of the sector.

Mining, oil drilling and gas extraction all have environmental, social and economic impacts that change women’s lives, often in ways that are dramatically different from their effect on men. Ensuring that men and women have equitable access to the benefits of resource development, and that neither are disproportionately placed at risk, requires commitment to understanding and acting on the gender dimensions of the sector. This means including women in community-level project consultations, and in national-level policy dialogues on extractive industries.

Women need equitable access to jobs in the sector. They must be involved in education, and in the decisions that affect their lives, and the future of their communities.  Gender-sensitive consultation is essential to ensure that analysis, training and policies in the extractive industries not only meet the needs of women, but enhance their well-being.

Achieving these goals is the purpose of the Gender and Extractive Industries Program, managed by the Bank’s Oil, Gas and Mining unit. It focuses on the gender dimensions of the extractive industries to ensure that all Bank-supported projects consider the needs and contributions of both men and women affected by this sector. It advises governments and companies to help them better understand, respond to, and address how men and women experience the sector and its impacts.

In Papua New Guinea, for instance, we supported a program in which women learned about mining and oil extraction, and worked to build a national movement around women in mining. The Bank’s program backed the development of a national multi-departmental committee on women in mining, and supported local literacy and business development training for women. This helped women take advantage of the economic and social changes happening in their communities. It contributed to the empowerment of women in mining communities and discussions.

There have been three  Bank-funded national “Women in Mining” workshops (and a fourth is in the works), now also including women from petroleum-impacted areas. The government now has a five-year National Action Plan for Women in Mining Areas. All of the mining companies have established ‘gender desks’, and an increasing number of community-company agreements now include specific provisions for grants and scholarships to women.

In Uganda and Tanzania, also with the Bank’s support, the government is ensuring that gender issues are addressed throughout their mining project plans. In Uganda, over a thousand people at all levels have received gender awareness training in the mining sector. The government extended a small-grants program to mining communities, in which the beneficiaries included women. The government of Tanzania has mainstreamed gender into their mining policy, and included gender as a strategic focus of their recently launched International Gem Show, as well as supporting an international workshop on gender mainstreaming in mining.

To highlight this progress—and to encourage more of it—we have created this Gender and the Extractive Industries calendar. It seeks to capture many of the lessons learned from the Gender and EI program in recent years, while also outlining some of the challenges ahead.

As Vice President for Sustainable Development, Rachel Kyte, said in the foreword to this calendar, “Humor and creativity are powerful learning tools, and so we hope that the cartoons on these pages spark discussion, innovation, and action to make gender a central consideration in all extractive industries’ operations, analysis and policies.”

 As you go about your busy day, this calendar can help put order to the chaos of your schedules, while also encouraging a new perspective and attitude : “Ahh, yes, gender and mining!!


Katherine C. Heller

Social Development Specialist

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