ABANTU for Development has, in a report, highlighted gender gaps on policy formulation in the oil and gas industry. Reporting on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) using Tullow Oil Plc and Kosmos Energy as case study, ABANTU said it analysis has shown that there is as yet no policy level commitment and direction in developing the needed gender frameworks that can address gender gaps and achieve concrete benefits for women and men of different social groups with reference to the oil and gas industry.
Below are some specific gaps identified:
The assessment of impacts was generically done. There was no categorization of assessment into how the exploration or activities of the oil companies will impact on women, children and other vulnerable groups in the catchment areas of production.
Though the development of the ESIA makes certain provisions for stakeholder and community participation they do not specifically promote gender equality adequately. Thus the ESIA is gender blind in that it neither openly discriminates against women nor explicitly provides for equal treatment for women and men.
Given the low levels of education and access to the internet in the country and specifically in the oil fringe communities, the extent of the inclusiveness and transparency in the development of the ESIA through the public consultations has to have been limited as the information was available only on the website. Since levels of education for women tend to be lower, their access to/input to the ESIA has to have been even more constrained because of the choice of publicity/information gathering medium.
In focusing on the quality of water and air, as being issues identified in the jubilee ESIA process, it was noted that impacts from emissions to air are unlikely to have a direct impact on local communities. However no justification is provided for this assumption whiles the promise to use state-of-art equipment and any specific mode of implementation to ensure monitoring of its effectiveness.
Based on the gender gaps identified in the process of developing the ESIA, ABANTU also made some recommendations. These include:
Government of Ghana’s policy frameworks guiding the development of ESIAs should be revised to employ the services of neutral consultants in the development of ESIAs. This will ensure neutrality in the issues assessed in the ESIAs.
The oil and gas companies should work together with CSOs specifically targeting gender rights organizations in their periodic project and policy reviews.
Reviewed reports should be shared with relevant CSOs and Feedback be reflected in the final reports.
It is necessary to have disaggregated information on the gender and age and backgrounds of those who were involved in the process to ensure gender awareness in the report.
The document presenting information on the project should be available using more accessible media such as community radio, phone-ins and public/local gatherings including durbars.
Finally, special consultations should be carried out with gender and women’s rights organizations to feed into the research and assessment of the environmental and socio-economic impacts specifically relevant for women.
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