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Building a movement for gender equality in extractives

The EITI and its stakeholders commit to intensify efforts towards gender equality and diversity in natural resource governance

While the benefits of extractive industry projects are primarily enjoyed by men, women and girls bear a disproportionate share of the negative social, economic and environmental impacts. That is why provisions to enhance women’s participation in decision-making around the management, development and use of natural resources are now included in the recently revised EITI Standard. This responds to a wider agenda to ensure that extractive resources are managed fairly and in the best interest of all citizens.

Representatives from governments, companies, civil society organisations and partners came together at the EITI Global Conference to address and discuss how extractive governance can be more inclusive. In addition to implementing the changes in the 2019 Standard, EITI stakeholders are looking for ways to promote gender equality and representation in the extractives. The importance of the issue, expressed by high-level participants and speakers, was echoed by all.


Champion(ing) women

I look forward to championing efforts to increase women’s participation in the oversight of the extractive sector and ensure that the sector benefits men and women equally” said Rt Hon. Helen Clark, the recently appointed EITI Chair. Helen was the first woman to head the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) between 2009 and 2017. During her tenure, the ratio of men to women within the UN agency increased to 50 per cent, including at the senior level. At the EITI Global Conference, Helen committed to using her platform as a world-leading figure in fighting for women’s rights to prioritise gender in her role as Chair.

Panellists Olga Bielkova, Mark Pearson, Yvonne Mbala and Maritza Esther Ruiz Escoto, as well as over a hundred participants, expressed their support and made it clear that Helen is not alone.

Drawing from her own experience as a longstanding member of the Ukrainian Parliament, Olga Bielkova advocated strongly for seeing women represented at all levels of policy-making in the extractive industries, including through establishing quotas.

Her statements were echoed by Yvonne Mbala, the Deputy CEO of the DRC’s largest oil producer PERENCO RDC. She lamented that women remained under-represented in decision-making bodies in the sector and did not benefit from the same economic opportunities as men, noting that there were less than 25 women in her company’s entire workforce of approximately 1400.

Maritza Esther Ruiz Escoto, a researcher at the Dominican Republic Observatory for Public Policies, highlighted the importance of further academic research in this field. She noted that the EITI process could add value to other existing reporting mechanisms by informing investment decisions in the extractive sector, ensuring that women’s realities are considered.

Recognising that natural resource governance needs to be more gender-inclusive, the EITI Board recently agreed to changes to the EITI Standard. These new provisions emphasise the importance of gender considerations in fostering transparency and accountability in the extractive sector.

Gender provision in 2019 EITI StandardRequirement in 2019 EITI Standard
Multi-stakeholder groups are required to consider gender balance in their representationRequirement 1.4
Reporting requires employment figures disaggregated by gender, project and role, where availableRequirement 6.3
Multi-stakeholder groups are required to consider access challenges and information needs of different genders and sub-groupsRequirement 7.1
Multi-stakeholder groups are encouraged to document how they improved gender equality and social inclusionRequirement 7.4


Building on changes to the EITI Standard: Pledging for gender equality

Key stakeholders not only stated their support in implementing the gender requirements in the EITI Standard, but also pledged to take additional measures to achieve gender equality.

  • BHP: According to BHP, its data shows that more inclusive and diverse mines teams outperform company average on a range of dimensions, including safety, productivity and culture. BHP has a public commitment to achieve gender balance by 2025, by focusing on embedding flexible work, enabling their supply chain to support commitments to inclusion and diversity, uncovering and taking steps to mitigate bias, and ensuring the BHP brand and industry is attractive to a diverse range of people.

  • Rio Tinto: Speaking on behalf of Rio Tinto, Mark Richards, Chief Advisor for External Affairs and Economic Policy, made the pledge to improve diversity through increasing women in senior management, increasing their graduate intake of women and continuing to take action on important issues such as Family and Domestic Violence.

  • Canada: EITI Board member Mark Pearson pledged on behald of Canada to continue supporting women and women’s rights organisations in EITI countries to facilitate their meaningful participation in natural resource governance, as well as working with its network of diplomatic missions to encourage greater diversity of representation in EITI multi-stakeholder groups.

  • France: EITI Board member Geneviève de Rossum underlined efforts made by France, which holds the G7 presidency in 2019, to make gender equality a global cause, including through working on the economic empowerment of women in Africa and promoting training for women throughout their lives. France will be hosting the fifth World Conference on Women next year, 25 years after the last one held in Beijing.

  • Armenia: Lusine Tovmashyan, the National Coordinator of Armenia EITI, announced that her country would disclose gender-disaggregated employment data in the mining sector, as well as explore how companies can strengthen women’s representation in their workforce and improve social inclusiveness in their social and economic expenditures.

  • NRGI: On behalf of the Natural Resource Governance Institute, Nafi Chinery pledged to incorporate a gender lens into NRGI's work, by proactively finding ways to address barriers to participation in training courses and promoting effective use of data. NRGI also pledged to support new research exploring the gendered impacts of revenue management.

What comes next

The upcoming months will be key to sustaining momentum. The EITI Board is developing guidance on integrating gender considerations in EITI implementation, drawing on the expertise of civil society organisations such as Oxfam, Publish What You Pay (PWYP) and NRGI, as well as from the experience of women and men in EITI implementing countries.

A one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Pushing for progress on gender equality and diversity means looking into the diverse realities of many marginalised groups. It means acknowledging that experiences differ not only based on gender, but also on location, class, ethnicity, indigeneity, religion and age. This diversity of perspective was demonstrated by the session participants from Latin America, Central Africa, Central Asia and OECD countries.

Exclusion begets bad governance; diversity can only strengthen natural resource governance for all citizens in resource-rich countries. While the EITI Standard provides the groundwork to address this challenge, it will take a coalition of actors to push for progress. The EITI conference showed that this movement is emerging and ambitious.

Indra Thévoz