Four women’s rights non-governmental organisations have collaborated to implement a one-year project aimed at promoting equity, accountability, transparency and greater responsiveness from critical actors in the oil and gas industry.
The groups are Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), in partnership with the Women in Law and Development (WiLDAF), FIDA-Ghana and Abantu for Development, with support from Star-Ghana.
The project, dubbed, “Women’s agency strengthened to demand accountability, equity and transparency from actors of the industry for improved livelihood”, is being implemented in communities within the Ellembele and Jomoro districts.
Expressing concerns about the impact of the industry on their livelihood at a press encounter in Accra, some of the women said the oil and gas sector had affected their fishing business which was their main source of livelihood.
They said because of the oil and gas industry, their fishing business was no more vibrant, and as a result, the women, most of them who are fish mongers and petty traders, had been deprived of their source of livelihood, while children in the area, especially the girl-child, played truancy, leading to increased cases of teenage pregnancy.
They said the youth had become unemployed as they did not have the requisite qualification to be employed on the oil rig.
The Paramount Queenmother of Bonyire in the Jomoro District, Nana Ebellekyi, who addressed the media, said women and children, especially those in the Jomoro District were suffering from the activities of the oil and gas project in the area.
According to her, on the social level, teenage pregnancy continued to increase, while divorce cases were also on the ascendancy as couples do not allow traditional authority to help in solving their marital issues.
Also, she said the cost of living in the area had increased as prices of goods and services had become expensive, adding that indigenes could not afford rent charges any longer as landlords preferred visitors to rent their rooms.
She said fishmongers, mostly women, were feeling the impact of the situation as fishermen who were mostly their husbands did not get fish and, therefore, they (the women) had to travel to Cote d’Ivoire to buy fish where they encountered problems with officials on the border.
She said their plight was worsened with the re-location of the Gas Processing Plant from Jomoro to the Ellembelle as the area had been deserted, with most of the youth migrating to do menial and risky jobs such as galamsey.
The Secretary of the Women’s Accountability Committee (WACOM) in the Ellembelle District, Ms Ellen Amande, who also shared some experiences from the perspective of the youth, said the youth in the area were not being employed, a situation she said had led to a lot of young girls going after men to earn a living, among other social vices.
The Convenor, Netright, Dr Akua O. Britwum, in a presentation on “Identified gender gaps in the oil and gas industry’ said a research conducted as part of the project identified that there were gender imbalance in recruitment and appointment in the oil and gas sector, there was no concious effort to have sex-disaggregated data on operations in the industry while an environmental and social impact assessment showed that there was no promotion of gender equality in the industry”.
The group, therefore, recommended sex-disaggregated data in the areas of recruitment, staffing, budgetary and resource allocation, while gas companies also pay special interest and invest in the well-being of women and children.
It also recommended among other things the payment of royalties, equal pay for equal work, local content, social responsibility framework, as well as the provision of alternative livelihood.
Ms Hamida Harrison, Convenor, Women’s Manifesto said increasingly, there was world-wide recognition that citizen’s involvement was critical for enhancing democratic governance, improving service delivery and fostering empowerment.
She called on the government to have a second look at issues of concern in the two districts to ensure that people did not unnecessarily become aggrieved.
Source: Daily Graphic
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