Oil & Gas: Women’s underrepresentation fuels gender disparity concerns

By Dasmani Laary

Posted on Wednesday, 29 June 2016 11:12

The West African nation has signed several conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.

governments have paid lip service to actually enacting and implementing laws that would make a great difference

But the head of monitoring, evaluation and outreach at the African Centre for Energy Policy, Munira Abubakari, said there is much to be done to bridge the gap that persists despite implementation of gender equity protocols, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

Citing the Ghana Education Trust Fund sponsorship to students to pursue oil and gas courses, Abubakari told The Africa Report on Wednesday fewer females were supported.

Between 2010 and 2015, she said, 221 men received scholarships to study oil, gas and energy related courses, in contrast with 49 women.

Boards of oil and gas sector institutions only pointed only 12 women to leadership positions in downstream companies, compared with 165 males.

Ghana’s local content policy framework is silent on the gender composition of its committee, she said, while “there are general strategic problems of the local content policy document”.

The document is said to lack gender focus, implementation strategies and timelines to achieve set targets.

“There is no provision made for value addition within the petroleum value, chain which encourages job creation and benefit of Ghanaian citizens including women,” Abubakari said.

“There are no entry strategies for local businesses and no government support for such businesses.

“Various governments have paid lip service to actually enacting and implementing laws that would make a great difference in terms of guaranteeing the positions of women across all endeavours.”

Several factors hinder effective participation of women in Ghana’s oil and gas sectors including lack of information, finance, cumbersome business registration procedures, demand for high technical knowledge and expertise.

Gender activists have been pushing government to put in place appropriate policies and programmes to address the disparity, including amending existing laws.

Ghana’s Gender and Social Protection ministry has been pressed on to scrutinise bills in the petroleum sector and ensure fair representation of women on boards.

It has also been told to design policy that seeks to encourage direct or indirect women’s participation in the oil and gas industry, while providing a periodic leadership training scheme to enhance women leadership capabilities.

Ghana launched its gender policy in late 2015 in an attempt to adhere to constitutional provisions, as well as international frameworks and conventions.

An Affirmative Action Bill was submitted to parliament in the first quarter of 2016 aimed to empower women and persons with disabilities.

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