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IRWCD Trains Women in A’Ibom Oil and Gas Communities on Opportunities in PIA

IRWCD Trains Women in A’Ibom Oil and Gas Communities on Opportunities in PIA

By Ekemini Simon

A non governmental organisation, Initiative for Rural Women and Community Development (IRWCD) has trained women in three oil and gas producing communities in Akwa Ibom State on opportunities available for women in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

The training which took place on January 28, 2022 at Ikpetim community in Ikot Abasi, February 4, 2022 at Inua Eyot in Ibeno and March 24, 2022 at Edonwik community in Eastern Obolo witnessed IRWCD create awareness on the provisions of the Act especially as it concerns the rural women.

In her remarks, the Coordinator of Initiative for Rural Women and Community Development (IRWCD), Okoho Ene, noted that the essence of the training is to enable the rural women get prepared for opportunities in the PIA, know the requirement needed to participate and be equipped with the necessary skills to access their rights as implementation is expected to commence in August 2022.

The Coordinator said the PIA has created an array of provisions and innovations that will affect the private, public sector and stakeholders in the oil and gas industry hence the need for all segment of the society to be carried along in anticipation of the full commencement of its implementation. 

Ene stated ” The oil industry is still predominantly occupied by the male globally whereas only 20 percent of the workforce in the oil and gas industry are female. Likewise, women are not advancing enough to leadership roles and contributing to influential decision-making roles in the oil and gas sector. Therefore, Initiative for Rural Women and Community Development (IRWCD) sees the need to create awareness on the PIA and its provisions for women through this project”.

 The Coordinator pointed out that as an organisation, they seek to champion a platform where girls and women have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to the society and have a voice in decision making, leadership and community development in order to improve quality of life especially at the grassroots. 

On his part, the resource person, an award winning investigative journalist, Ekemini Simon said there are entry points for women in the PIA especially in the provision of Host Community Development Trust.

He noted that the Trust which is made up of an amount equal to three (3) percent of the oil and gas company’s annual operating expenditure of the preceding financial year is geared towards sustainable prosperity, provide direct social and economic benefits from petroleum operations to the host communities.

Simon pointed out that women have opportunity to position themselves to serve as members of the Board of Trustees, Management Committees, and Host Communities Advisory Committees which the Act provides must be in place for the functionality of the Trust.

 ” Section 242 of the Act provides that what qualify persons to serve in these three positions is that they must be persons of high integrity and professional standing. No gender is specified hence the need for community women to start now to assess themselves and ensure they have in place women who have met these criteria”, he said.

He explained that besides the three offices, women must position themselves to participate meaningfully during need assessment and also play prominent role in advising against vandalism of oil and gas facilities.

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Simon stated “It is interesting that section 251 (2) of the Act clearly mentions that women must participate in what this Act seeks to achieve. The PIA provides that during need assessment, women, youth and community leaders must be consulted. This, presupposes that besides making inputs during need assessment, women must be given opportunities just like others to play key role in the Host Community Development Trust”.

The resource person advised that since the society where this Trust would operate rarely give leadership preference to women, it is time women position themselves in advance as persons with capacity and also make demands for opportunities to be given to them in the Host Community Development Trust.  

He recommended that women demands could be pushed through strategic campaigns including media campaigns, Citizens’ Charter of Demands, townhall meetings and  advocacy visits to state actors and officials of the oil and gas companies that operate within their communities.

In their respective communities, the women thanked Initiative for Rural Women and Community Development for the training describing it as an eye opener.
 They assured of their readiness to discuss the recommendations further during their meetings so as to put motion in place to engage their male counterparts, community leaders, state actors and oil and gas communities in preparedness before the commencement of the Host Community  Development Trust.

Initiative for Rural Women and Community Development (IRWCD) is non-governmental organisation that aims at working with marginalized girls and women in promoting their Rights, Environment justice, Socio-economic and  Sustainable Development Goal through strategic engagement, effective education with linkages between Policy, Programme and practices in the Niger Delta.

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