East Africa: Project aims to help women benefit more from the wealth created by the extractive sector

Author: Yves Faguy, National Magazine (Canada), Published on: 23 March 2020

"Empowering East Africa’s women"

...Meanwhile, governments are keen to tap into the region's natural resource bounty. Recent oil, gas and mining discoveries in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda offer real potential for jobs and business opportunities, not to mention funding for improved infrastructure, education and social programs. Why wouldn't women in rural communities stand to benefit from these new investments? Because they get left out of negotiations over everything from the benefits of extractive contracts to compensation and royalties, says Jennifer Koshan, a law professor at the University of Calgary with expertise in gender issues. “There can be a lack of inclusion of women in terms of what these resource extraction projects can bring to communities,” she says. “So they can be quite disruptive to local economies.”

The problem is compounded by the fact that many women are not aware of their rights—and even when they are, they are ill-equipped to exercise them. That's what a five-year Canadian project—Supporting Inclusive Resource Development in East Africa, or SIRD—is setting out to change. Managed by the CBA's International Initiatives Department (CBAII) and funded by Global Affairs Canada...SIRD's goal is to get women's groups and leaders more involved in consultations, negotiations and law reform advocacy related to the extractive sector. "We want to have more informed and empowered women. We want there to be a voice for them," says Mwanasha Bakeri, a community organizer in Kwale county, Kenya, where Base Titanium has invested heavily in a mineral sands project that is expected to contribute close to US$1 billion to the country's GDP.

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Related companies: Base Titanium (part of Base Resources)