Women drawn from some oil producing communities in three Niger Delta states- Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom- were in Port Harcourt February 7 – 8, 2019 for a two-day capacity building training on Beneficial Ownership conducted by Kebetkache Women Development Resource Center with support from Ford Foundation.
The training was conducted by ateam from the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, (NEITI) andhad as its theme, “Enhancing the Capacity of Women in the Niger Delta toAdvocate Equitable benefit Sharing of Oil Revenue and DemandAccountability from the Nigerian Government”. Venue was Swiss Spirit Hotel,Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
The aim of the training was tobuild a critical mass movement of women campaigning for inclusive and equitablebenefit sharing in the Niger Delta region from awareness of the fact thatthough the region produces over 80% of the revenue that drives the countrythrough oil and gas resources abundant there, the people especially, women, donot benefit from it. Most of suchcommunities have limited livelihood opportunities and lack access to socialservices.
A number of papers focused onNEITI activities and the need to knowBeneficial Owners of oil fields in the region as a strategy for engaging foraccountability and better corporate social responsibility from operators werepresented and discussed.
From deliberations, participantsobserved:
- Thatrather than improve the lot of oil communities, exploration has made life moredifficult with challenges of livelihood, health, infrastructure, etc
- Thatsince oil and gas majorly fund projects and activities of government, communitymembers especially women, have the right to ask what happens from the point ofFederal Allocations to how such moniesare spent and demand open governance.
- CivilSociety, considered the soul of NEITI, is in a vantage position to monitor,enlighten, engage communities to own projects in their domain
- Thatincreased number of women led activities demanding accountability andbeneficial ownership disclosures can help agencies like NEITI drive extractivesector reforms, promote good governance and result in prosperity for allNigerians.
- Thatthe extractive sector is as yet gender blind
At the end of deliberations,Participants Resolved:
- That revenues from the extractive sector, oil and gas and solid minerals should sustain national and regional development, reduce poverty and improve the standard of living of Nigerians.
- That stringent efforts should be made to block leakages in revenue loss through accountability and transparency.
- That focus should be placed on implementation of numerous existing well -crafted laws that will improve activities in the oil and gas sector.
- That Women need to take up the demand for accountability, identify key women in the industry to boost their advocacy drive as well as bring together industry professionals, women scientists and engineers, etc., to identify workplace policies and practices that support, advance and retain women’s careers in the sector.
- That Women must demand gender equity in the Oil and Gas sector which is gender blind with women clearly missing in the decision making processes and raise awareness on the gender dimension of extractive sector activities.
- That NEITI platform be used to advocate for inclusion and participation of women and map key stakeholders and organizations who are gender responsive.
- That Government and NGOs should pioneer studies on the impacts of activities of the extractive industries on gender.
- That gender and women empowerment should not be an afterthought in national resource management but an integral and explicit component addressed along the extractive value chain.
- That more girls and young women should be encouraged to embrace the sciences, engineering and technology and participate in the sector.
The Participants also expressedgratitude to Ford Foundation for the opportunity to build their capacity onbeneficial ownership and how to engage both the BOs and their representativesin government for greater accountability and development in the region; Theyalso appreciated NEITI for the training and Kebetkache Women Resources andDevelopment for continuously taking Niger Delta women to new frontiers.
Chief Constance Meju – Chair,Communique Drafting Committee
Princess Victoria Umoh – Akwa Ibom state
Regina Fabian – AkwaIbom state
Dr Patience Osaroejiji – Rivers state
Ngozi Azuma – Riversstate
Bielaye George – Bayelsa state
Emem Okon – ExecutiveDirector, Kebetkache
# GenderAccountability and Transparency