By Foroyaa Reporter
Gambian Vice President Dr Isatou Touray recently returned from Senegal where she attended the Africa Platform for Women Empowerment and where she pointed out the glaring gender gaps which exists in the extractive industry around the world that is unfavourable to women.
Speaking at the King Fahad Palace in Senegal’s capital Dakar, VP Touray said evidence from around the world show gross inequality in terms of low participation of women in the oil and gas industry.
“I would also like to explore a little bit further the critical role of women entrepreneurs within the oil and gas industry or more fittingly the “extractive industry”, in the context of placing women-led Companies, as far as local content is concerned, which resonates very well with the theme of this high-level round table meeting in Dakar today,” Vice President Touray said.
The round table forum held under the theme “Oil and Gas: The place of women-led companies in local content”, was organised by PAAF in collaboration with the Senegalo-Gambia network of entrepreneurs and leaders, headed by its president Saida Mussokoro Mbaye of Senegal and her Vice President Aja Adu Lette Sey of The Gambia.
VP Touray noted that globally, there are divergent experiences of women and men who live in areas directly affected by oil and gas development; that hence the need to highlight how the industry specifically contributes to “gender gaps” in the unequal distribution of assets and risks.
VP Touray said to increase operational efficiency, reduce risks and foster sustainable development, the potential role of the marginalised especially the youth and women, needs to be considered by Governments and non-state actors. She affirmed that the extractive industries are a major source of revenue for many resource-rich economies around the world and are central to their economic growth and social development.
“Many studies have revealed that the extractive industries have different impacts upon men and women, in a variety of ways,” VP Touray said; that in recognising that women’s participation and gender equity is a precondition for achieving the best development outcomes, some extractive industry Companies have committed to integrating gender equality, inclusion and women’s economic empowerment into aspects of their operations.
VP Touray said although the extractive industries are largely masculine, women have played and continue to play a wide range of significant roles in the sector; that although there are negative impacts on women due to their activities, it is important to acknowledge the strong and active roles taken by women in the mining and oil and gas industries throughout history.
She recommended showcasing good practices on gender and the extractive industries to help guide Governments, the private sector, civil society organisations and other stakeholders, in developing policy, programmes and legislation to better address the challenges women face from this sector.
Speaking at the event, Eva Marie Cole-Seck, the Minister of State for Senegal emphasized its importance and welcomed her counterpart from the Gambia, Vice President Touray.
She thanked President Barrow and Maky Sall for creating the platform for women in the sub-region, while noting that women have a critical role to play in the oil and gas industry and that their participation will bridge the gender gap in the employment and development of the sector.
Ms. Olimata Sarr, the UN-Women’s Regional Coordinator, said the meeting was a high political commitment drawn from policy makers in Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania.
Ms. Maimouna DIAGNE AIDARA, the president of PAAF said they were honoured to have the Gambian delegation, noting that the Gambia holds the Vice Presidency of PAAF which is led by Aisha Jallow.
She therefore hoped for the launching of the Gambian Chapter very soon and explained that PAAF will bring together over 21,000 African women mainly from Senegal and the Gambia, to support them in their resolute march towards greater autonomy.
VP Touray was accompanied by a high-powered delegation including the Speaker of the National Assembly Mariama Jack-Denton, the Minister of Energy and Petroleum Fafa Sanyang;the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Welfare Fatou Kinteh; that Minister for Basic and Secondary Education Claudiana Cole; the Minister of Agriculture Amie Fabureh; Permanents Secretaries and other Government officials.