CSR-in-Action is pleased to announce the launch of its inaugural Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) Research Report at the forthcoming 12th Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) Conference, to be held on Tuesday, 31 October, 2023, at Victoria Island, Lagos. This report will unveil an extensive examination of a groundbreaking study that navigates the complex landscape where the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) converges with the integration of women in Nigeria’s dynamic oil-producing communities. This comprehensive research delves deep into pivotal facets of the PIA’s execution by oil corporations, its gender equity dimensions, ramifications for women in oil-rich regions, and the dynamic landscape of women’s participation in decision-making processes.
PIA’s Progress Report: A Regional Odyssey
The Petroleum Industry Act, a legislative milestone enacted in 2021, was envisioned to be a game-changer for Nigeria’s host communities. However, its rollout has been far from uniform.
Our research focused on Delta, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states because of their status as Nigeria’s top oil producers. Field evidence showed that while Delta State has experienced some tangible benefits, other states, notably Rivers and Akwa-Ibom, are lagging behind. The glaring contrast in the array of advantages, spanning from borehole installations to educational grants and contributions to security outfits, highlights a stark disparity in implementation efforts. The absence of robust implementation structures compounds these disparities, casting doubt on the Act’s ultimate impact.
The PIA has a number of provisions that may promote women’s inclusion, such as:
- The requirement for oil companies to establish Host Communities Development Trusts (HCDTs), which must be managed by a board of trustees that includes at least 30% women.
- The requirement for oil companies to develop gender-sensitive community development plans.
- The requirement for oil companies to provide equal opportunities for employment and training to women and men.
Implementation of the PIA by Oil Companies
The implementation of the PIA is still in its early stages, and it is early to say definitively how effective it will be in promoting women’s inclusion in the oil and gas sector. Within the realm of oil company leadership, gender disparities continue to loom large. Men continue to dominate the upper echelons of power, particularly in pivotal sectors such as production and IT. Although there have been commendable strides in departments like logistics, women’s access to these upper echelons are frequently hindered by a paucity of training and skill enhancement opportunities. Furthermore, deeply entrenched societal norms and resistance from community members continue to obstruct women’s ascent to leadership roles within community bodies.
However, there are some positive examples of oil companies supporting women’s inclusion in their host communities. For example, in Oleh, Delta state, four out of twenty-five listed programmes benefitted more females. These programmes included:
- Provision of scholarships to female students
- Provision of start-up kits for female entrepreneurs
- Provision of skills training to female artisans
- Provision of microfinance loans to female entrepreneurs
Despite the progress that has been made, there are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed in order to increase women’s participation in the oil and gas sector and ensure that they benefit from its activities. These challenges include:
- Lack of awareness of the PIA and its provisions among women in host communities: Many women in host communities are not aware of the PIA and its provisions, including those that promote women’s inclusion. This lack of awareness makes it difficult for women to hold oil companies accountable for implementing the PIA’s gender-sensitive provisions.
- Cultural and religious barriers that prevent women from participating in certain roles and departments in the oil and gas sector: In some parts of Nigeria, there are cultural and religious barriers that prevent women from participating in certain roles and departments in the oil and gas sector. For example, in some communities, women are not allowed to work outside the home or to work in certain male-dominated roles.
- Lack of access to training and development opportunities: Many women in Nigeria lack access to the training and development opportunities they need to succeed in the oil and gas sector. This is due to a number of factors, such as poverty, gender discrimination, and lack of access to quality education.
- Gender bias in the recruitment and promotion processes of oil companies: There is evidence that gender bias exists in the recruitment and promotion processes of many oil companies in Nigeria. This can make it difficult for women to be hired and promoted into senior positions.
Charting a Course for Change
This study underscores the imperative for a multifaceted approach to surmount these challenges and foster gender equity within the oil and gas sector:
- Government’s Call to Action: Advocating for a more equitable revision of the PIA stands as a paramount concern. The government must heed the specific concerns and aspirations of women in this industry. Moreover, clear and comprehensive communication of the PIA to the populace is imperative to heighten awareness.
- Pioneering Female Leadership: The government should blaze a trail by appointing an increased number of women to influential positions within regulatory agencies across the sector. Visionary leaders like Simbi Wabote and Senator Margery Chuba-Okadigbo serve as beacons of inspiration for women’s ascendancy in the private sector.
- Empowerment through Skill Enhancement: Striving to invest substantially in the training and development of women in key skill areas will fortify their capacity to embrace leadership roles in all facets of the industry.
Alongside the official release of the highly anticipated research report on the Petroleum Industry Act at the 12th Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) conference, the conference will feature an illustrious lineup of speakers who will engage in discussions centred around aligning governance, policies, and practices with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) within the extractive sector, which promises to be a thought-provoking dialogue on the crucial intersection of sustainability and industry operations.
Furthermore, the conference will serve as the prestigious venue for the 2023 Community and Human Rights (CAHR) Awards ceremony. During this occasion, outstanding individuals and organisations will be honoured and celebrated for their remarkable contributions to human rights and community development across Africa. It’s a moment to acknowledge the transformative impact of their endeavours and to inspire further commitment to these vital causes.
You can register for the SITEI Conference HERE.
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