Pressing for progress on gender equality and diversity

EITI Global Conference: Executive Session 9

Session Summary

The EITI recently agreed to changes to the EITI Standard to emphasise the importance of gender considerations in fostering transparency and accountability in the natural resource sector. The overall objective of the session was to build on the momentum around the changes to the Standard and create opportunities for advancing gender equality and promoting diversity in efforts to improve extractive sector transparency in EITI implementing countries.

This session focused on the best practices to date, how to improve access to decision-making for women and marginalised groups on natural resource governance, how to strengthen access to and use of data on the sector by these actors, and how extractive sector information can best contribute to supporting progress on gender equality.


Moderator: Rt Hon Helen Clark, EITI Chair


  • Ms Olga Bielkova, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament and Deputy Head of the Committee on Fuel and Energy Complex, Nuclear Policy and Nuclear Safety

  • Mr Mark Pearson, Director General, Planning, Delivery and Results Branch, Natural Resources Canada

  • Ms Maritza Esther Ruiz Escoto, Researcher at the Dominican Observatory of Public Policies (Observatorio Dominicano de Políticas Públicas)

  • Ms Yvonne Mbala, Deputy CEO, Perenco DRC

Session Details

Helen Clark noted that the EITI’s commitments to promoting gender equality had been made explicit in the 2019 EITI Standard, with guidance currently being developed to support EITI implementing countries. She stated that she looked 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.

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

Mark Pearson presented Canada’s efforts in advancing gender equality in the natural resource sector as well as supporting women’s participation and leadershipin the management of natural resources. He also argued that men should be engaged in the fight for gender equality, be given opportunities to advocate for equality in the sector, and be encouraged to lead by example in respecting and promoting the interests of women. 

Maritza Ruiz Esther Ruiz Escoto highlighted the importance of research in this area and commended the inclusion of gender-disaggregated employment data in the 2019 Standard. She noted that the EITI process could add value to other existing mechanisms by informing investment decisions in the extractive sector, ensuring that women’s realities are considered.

Presenting the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yvonne Mbala lamented that, despite enabling regulatory frameworks, women remained under-represented in decision-making bodies in the sector and did not benefit from the same economic opportunities as men.


Participants noted that regulatory frameworks and apparent political will was not sufficient to translate into concrete changes. They highlighted four avenues for improvement. First, they emphasized the importance of thoroughly documenting the situation of women and other marginalized groups, in order to better inform policies. Second, they insisted that such challenges should be debated by relevant actors, including women’s organizations in spaces such as the EITI. Third, they argued that pressure should be exerted on decision-makers to follow-up on commitments and demand real change in policies, both from governments and companies. Finally, participants agreed that positive discrimination and quotas could increase women’s  participation in the sector and help get marginalized groups to benefit from the sector. 

Representatives from the following governments, companies, and organisations made pledges to promote gender equality and increase women’s participation in the sector:

  • Armenia EITI pledged to provide gender-disaggregated employment data in the mining sector. It also pledged to look into how companies can improve women’s representation in their workforce and how they can improve social inclusiveness in their social and economic expenditures.

  • In 2016, BHP set an aspirational goal to reach gender balance across the company by 2025. This was based on data that showed that the more inclusive and diverse teams outperform the company average on a range of dimensions, including safety, productivity and culture. By the end of FY2018, females represented 22.4 per cent of BHP’s global workforce, up from 17.6 in FY2016. To accelerate the delivery of a more inclusive work environment, BHP’s Global Inclusion and Diversity Council, which includes their CEO, recommends four priority areas for the company including embedding flexible work; enabling their supply chain to support commitment to inclusion and diversity; uncovering and taking steps to mitigate bias in systems, behaviours, policies and processes; and ensuring the BHP brand and industry are attractive to a diverse range of people. As part of this broader goal, BHP have also created accountability for change by embedding relevant KPIs into their senior leaders’ scorecards and measuring company-wide progress on gender balance year-on-year.

  • Rio Tinto recognised that they have to work harder to address the gender imbalance that exists in the industry. Rio Tinto pledged 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.

  • Gender equality, inclusion and diversity make for better decision-making. Having more women at the table encourages decisions that prioritize sustainable development and the needs of the community. Consequently, Canada pledged to continue supporting women and women’s rights organizations in EITI countries to facilitate their meaningful participation in natural resource governance. Canada also committed to continue working with the EITI and through our network of diplomatic missions to encourage greater diversity of representation, particularly of women and women’s rights organizations in the 52 EITI implementing countries’ multi-stakeholder groups.

  • The European Commission reiterated its pledge to have more than 50% of its cooperation gender-oriented.

  • France congratulated the EITI for bringing added value through requiring gender-disaggregated data and better documenting progress in empowering women economically. In the framework of France’s presidency of the G7, the empowerment of women represents a central theme. France summarized the work done by the advisory council on gender equality to suggest legal reforms to promote gender equality, and noted the common declaration on May 10th to make gender equality a global cause, including through working on the economic empowerment of women in Africa and promoting training and capacity building for women throughout their lives. France will also host the fifth World Conference on Women in 2020, 25 years after the last one in Beijing.

  • The Natural Resource Governance Institute pledged to incorporate a gender lens into its work, including proactively finding ways to address barriers to participation in training courses and promoting effective use of data. It will also seek to advance the field’s understanding of how the resource governance response to extraction may have gendered impacts through supporting new research exploring the gendered impacts of revenue management frameworks.


Corruption and mismanagement of natural resource wealth have gender differentiated consequences. Research demonstrates that corruption and bad governance impede women from reaching high positions in business and politics. The natural resource sector can also have significant social, economic and environmental impacts on host communities. This ranges from changes in the natural environment to access to jobs, changes in the cost of living and traditional social dynamics. Extractives projects can have gender-skewed impacts that disfavour women. Women are sometimes excluded from consultations and decision-making by companies and governments around natural resources projects. As a result, their interests are not adequately considered, further exacerbating the disproportionate effects of natural resources projects’ impacts on women and marginalized groups.

The mission of the EITI is aligned with many of the targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals, and the EITI principles underline the importance of accountability to all citizens for the stewardship of revenue streams and public expenditure. In light of this, it is important to recognise and address structural barriers that impede women, girls and marginalized groups from equally contributing to and benefitting from sustainable natural resource management as well as potential gendered impacts of extractive activities.

As a first step, the EITI Board agreed changes to the EITI Standard in 2019 that aim to i) require MSGs to consider gender balance in representation, ii) require disclosure of employment figures by gender, and when available, by company and occupational level, iii) encourage the MSG to document how it has taken gender considerations and inclusiveness into account in EITI implementation.