What’s in it for us? Gender issues in Uganda’s oil and gas sector

This study intends to demonstrate how key stakeholders in the oil industry in Uganda can play a role in insulating communities from its risks and ensuring its gains are equitable and inclusive.

In 2012, International Alert carried out a baseline study in Uganda’s Albertine region (Governance and Livelihoods in Uganda’s Oil-rich Albertine Graben) as part of the ‘Harnessing the Potential of Oil to Contribute to Peace and Development in Uganda’ project.

The objective of the research was to establish baseline data needed to measure the degree and quality of change in the livelihoods of communities where oil exploration is taking place. One area of focus in the baseline was gender – specifically, women’s role in decision-making, gender roles in the household, women’s control over assets, and perceived changes in gender roles.

The main finding of the baseline with regards to gender relations was that household decision making is male-dominated. Men control household assets, and women have a much higher household workload. On this basis, the researchers concluded that if gender relations remained the same, women stood to benefit less than men from the proceeds of oil exploration and exploitation.

They also argued that as the oil sector develops into the commercial stage, it could have a significant impact on gender relations. Changes to family income, education and influence from other cultures could lead to conflict between the sexes.

Women are often more vulnerable to the risks associated with extractive industries – for instance, environmental degradation and family disruption – whilst men are better positioned to take advantage of its benefits, such as employment or supplier contracts.

Within this framework, ‘gender’ is understood as the social and cultural construct of roles, responsibilities, attributes, opportunities, privileges, status, access to and control over resources and benefits between men and women, boys and girls in a given society.