What you need to know:
- Women, especially in developing countries, are more likely to live in close proximity to oil fields and refineries. This proximity exposes them to higher levels of pollution, leading to increased health risks, including respiratory problems, cancer, and reproductive issues.
In the realm of environmental and economic discourse, the negative impacts of oil activities are well-documented. From pollution and climate change to political conflicts and corporate power, the consequences of our global thirst for oil are far-reaching and significant.
However, one aspect often overlooked in this dialogue is the gendered impact of oil extraction, production, and consumption. The truth is, women bear a disproportionate burden from the negative consequences of the oil industry, and it’s time we shed light on this issue.
Health and environmental consequences: Oil activities are notorious for their adverse effects on the environment, including air and water pollution, habitat destruction, and greenhouse gas emissions. Some affected area in our communities have already experienced this problem.
Women, especially in developing countries, are more likely to live in close proximity to oil fields and refineries. This proximity exposes them to higher levels of pollution, leading to increased health risks, including respiratory problems, cancer, and reproductive issues.
Economic disparities: Oil-rich regions often witness economic disparities, with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. This inequality affects women significantly.
The influx of male labour into the industry creates a gender gap in employment opportunities and exacerbates income disparities. Women are often left with fewer job opportunities and lower wages, pushing them into vulnerable economic positions.
Land rights and displacement: Land is a valuable resource, and oil exploration frequently involves land acquisition and displacement of communities. Women, who often rely on land for subsistence farming and housing, bear the brunt of these forced relocations. They not only lose their homes and livelihoods but also face increased vulnerability to violence and exploitation during such upheavals. In my region, some land and property have already been taken way under devaluation and displace before clearing the compensation.
Cultural and social disruption: The social fabric of communities can unravel in the wake of oil activities. Traditional gender roles may be disrupted in the process of cash compensation.
Money has blinded most men to the extent of not considering women in planning for the received cash, leading to increased domestic violence and the marginalisation of women’s voices in decision-making processes.
Moreover, the influx of transient labour forces can bring an upsurge in social problems, further affecting women and children.
Limited access to resources: As oil exploration depletes natural resources and diverts government attention and resources, all the efforts are inserted on exploiting the oil for special benefit.
Women, therefore, often face difficulties accessing clean water, education, and healthcare. These challenges compound existing gender inequalities and hinder the development of women and their communities.
Climate change impact: Oil activities contribute significantly to climate change, which disproportionately affects women in various ways. Women are more likely to be responsible for household tasks like collecting water and firewood, which become more challenging due to climate-related changes.
Moreover, as climate-induced disasters increase, women often find themselves in vulnerable positions, facing higher mortality rates during such events.
In conclusion, the negative impacts of oil activities on women are undeniable and significant. It’s essential for policy makers, environmental activists, and the industry itself to recognise these disparities and work towards gender-inclusive solutions.
Women should have a seat at the table in decision-making processes regarding oil activities, and their unique challenges should be considered in crafting environmental and social policies.
Only through these measures can we begin to rectify the gender inequalities exacerbated by the oil industry and pave the way for a more equitable and sustainable future.
Clinton Bikorwa, Youth Coordinator EACOP Affected Communities.
source : https://www.monitor.co.ug/uganda/oped/letters/how-oil-activities-harm-women-4401664