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Patriarchy denying women oil opportunities

International Alert Cover PageWomen in the Uganda’s oil-rich Albertine Region are failing to access employment and other opportunities in the oil and gas sector because they are overburdened with domestic work as well as other subsistence duties, a new report by International Alert, a peace building organization has revealed.

An outcome of a survey carried out in Acholi, Bunyoro and West Nile sub-regions, the report, entitled What’s in it for us: Gender issues in Uganda’s oil and gas sector, indicates that women generally have less time, mobility and access to education and trainings to enable them to seek employment in the oil and gas sector.

The survey also found that women are least considered for casual employment opportunities in the oil fields because the sub-contractors for the oil companies prefer employing men who are deemed ‘stronger’.

“Oil company representatives confirmed that their sub-contractors are under no obligation to implement gender-sensitive employment policies,” reads the report.

Yet, the report adds, Albertine women are also not employed in other fields like catering and hospitality services because they lack qualifications and professional experience.

Land conflicts on the rise

The survey also found that the discovery of oil has created tension in the communities leading to land conflicts that affect women most.

According to the findings of the survey, women in all the three regions required the permission of their husband or someone else to sell family land, livestock, farm produce and work tools.

Some of the women even revealed that they needed permission from their husbands to sell land they solely owned.

The report recommends that government develops a National Action Plan for Gender and Extractives to guide and provide a monitoring framework for its interventions.

It also urges government to provide stronger legal protection to vulnerable groups such as widows, divorcees, women in cohabitation and children facing land conflicts.

The report further advises government to put in place a national local content policy that recognises the different needs of men and women. It recommends that local content legislation should require companies and their contractors to commit to gender-smart local recruitment.

“This should include provisions for training and capacity-building programmes in the areas of business development for women’s groups to form enterprises.”

Finally, the report advises the oil companies to establish micro-credit schemes for rural women and men by identifying lenders to facilitate concessionary, gender-fair loans.

Report by Flavia Nalubega & Beatrice Ongode

editor@oilinuganda.org