22 September 2014, Kampala — Laws put in place to manage oil and gas resources in Uganda are lax on protecting interests of women leaving them marginalised, mistreated and voiceless as the country advances towards the production of its resources.
The non-committal laws on gender issues are part of the many damaging challenges faced by women in area were oil and gas activities are on-going as contained in a report recently released in Kampala by International Alert, a global peace building organisation.
According to the report, women as pillars of families and entire communal setting are not benefiting from the development of oil and gas instead they have been side-lined by men who are the decision makers and owners of property including land.
Lyn Turyatemba the Senior Program Officer at International Alert Uganda while presenting the findings of the report at the launch said women are being disproportionately affected by the development of the extractive industry.
She said the objective of the report was to ensure that women benefit from the oil sector directly or indirectly.
In its findings, the report castigates the National Oil and Gas Policy, a key regulatory instrument in guiding the proceedings of the industry and oil laws particularly the Petroleum (Exploration, Development And Production) Act 2013 and Petroleum (Refining, Conversion, Transmission And Midstream Storage) Act, 2013 for not addressing gender interests.
Turyatemba said although the policy has eradication of poverty and creating lasting value to society as its main goals, it doesn’t take into account gender specific manifestations of poverty and the subsequent need to tackle it in a particular gender sensitive way.She added that they found out that laws governing the oil land gas industry in Uganda are similarly gender blind arguing that both the upstream and midstream laws provide only two provisions that address gender issues.
The report says that while the Policy explicitly addresses the social impacts of changes to population distribution, energy availability, employment opportunities and patterns, environment and health, gender dynamics are not considered in these areas, and the sector’s impact on gender relations as a discrete area of focus is entirely absent.
“Since each of these impacts is experienced differently by men and women, girls and boys, it is essential for the oil sector’s guiding policy framework to be gender sensitive,” the report reads in part.
Turyatemba highlighted that there are no laws to protect women against certain culture, social marginalization giving an example of how women were left out during the oil refinery land compensation because land belonged to men.”Instead of land for land compensation, men chose to take money. This money is consumable. Some men decided to take on other women as wives, drink alcohol and bought boda boda motorcycles. The compensation process was not gender sensitive,” Turytemba said.
Because of insufficient laws to address gender needs, access to livelihood for women is hard; this has left them unemployed, landless, uneducated and sexually abused.
“For instance, the loss of food crops from surveying land has had impacts and disproportionate consequences for women because they tend to play a greater role in food crop cultivation and are responsible for ensuring household food security,” she said.Likely, prostitution, sex gender based violence, domestic violence, children especially girls dropping out of school and family conflicts have been on the rise ever since oil and gas activities took off.
Miria Matembe an activist poverty is turning girls to prostitution and the lack of political will to protect women in the country is making it worse. She said women need to be treated as equal, as human beings, respected and have a right to inheritance of property.
– East African Business Week