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Oil &Gas: Stakeholders canvass new policies, programmes

As women participation dips

By Udeme Akpan

Since the passage of the Nigerian Content Bill into an Act in 2011, there are indications that indigenous participation has risen through increased award of contracts to indigenous companies, employment and utilisation of local inputs in the oil and gas industry.

Nevertheless, available data indicated that men dominate the scene, thus causing imbalance against their women counterparts globally and in Nigeria.

Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, who confirmed the situation at the workshop, Mainstreaming Women in the Oil and Gas Industry, in Lagos recently said: “It is estimated that women occupy about 50 per cent of non-technical positions at entry level compared to only 15 per cent of technical and field role positions.

oil, North

“As you can see from the slide, gender diversity decreases with seniority with only a tiny proportion of women in executive positions. The percentage of women in the industry dropped over time from 36 percent to 24 percent between the middle and executive level.

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“On the global scale, women make up about 15 per cent of the workforce in the oil and gas industry. This is considerably smaller than most major industries; finance, manufacturing, construction etc. Despite the low representation, women in the oil and gas industry are making their mark. They also have better representation in the management and CEO levels.

“Looking at some of the challenges such as career advancement, untapped talents, gender imbalance and Limited Presence of Women in Technical roles (STEM) etc. encountered by women in the oil and gas industry, I would like to believe that there is a glimmer of hope in the sector. The energy policies we establish today will affect the investment and innovations of tomorrow and those technologies will help determine the economic growth and individual opportunities for future generations.

Determination

“For us in NCDMB, we are determined to play our role in Human Capacity Development. Part of the Board’s strategy for implementing the NOGICD Act is development and implementation of its Capacity Development Initiatives. Our capacity building interventions includes deepening indigenous capabilities in the areas of Human Capital Development, Infrastructure and Facilities, Manufacturing, and Local Supplier Development.

“We have taken specific steps to train maritime cadets, secondary school teacher, agricultural entrepreneurs, pilots, IDPs training in different crafts, technicians, engineers, and environmentalists with over 6 million training manhours delivered. We also have Capacity Building Centers embedded in the design of our Nigerian Oil and Parks Scheme as part of our contribution to the development of infrastructure in the country.

“Out of the total number trained by the Board, women constitute about 20 per cent of the trainees, we hope to increase the number of women trained to meet up the industry skilled labour demand, and we will do more to encourage women to participate more the oil and gas industry across the country.

“The NOGICD Act sets the minimum targets in 278 services across oil and gas value chain in the Schedule and it covers the search, development, production, and utilisation of Hydrocarbons (full life cycle) and beyond. The Schedule is a compendium of opportunities as it lists various activities in the oil and gas industry and sets out the desired level of Nigerian content in accordance with various units of measurement.

“However, beyond the known services in the oil and gas services such as fabrication and construction, well drilling services, installations, FEED and detailed design engineering etc, there are other opportunities in the sector which women can key into. I implore you to take advantage of the NOGICD Act.”

Acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, said: “According to available data provided by the World Petroleum Council in its 2017 report, women account for just about a fifth of the workforce of global oil and gas companies including national oil companies, compared to almost every other sector surveyed in the report.

“More fascinating is a recent Linked-in analysis which discovered that women made-up just 26.7 percent of oil and gas industry related profiles in contrast to about 12 dozen industries analyzed. Further alarming is the almost negligible stock of women who occupy technical or sit in executive boardrooms of oil companies in Nigeria, which have been dubbed a boys’ club.”

Reasons

Dr. Yemi-Esan said: “While men and women apparently set out on a general equal footing, women scarcely reach the top of the organisation. This deficit may superficially be attributed to poor ambition among women; however, a more thorough study of scenario will paint a wider picture.  Perhaps common among the impediments to the scaling of women’s participation in the oil and gas industry are strongly held stereotypes and perceptions society has nursed overtime with regard to women breaking the barriers of the conventional roles they have been constrained to and occupying decision-making positions.

“The issue of gender parity in the corporate world is a global problem and Nigeria is not left out. For instance, in Nigeria, while it is worth noting that the country is signatory to various international and regional protocols such as the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Africa Protocol on Women’s Rights, both of which aim to promote women’s rights, compliance with such protocols/conventions can hardly be felt in critical sectors, including oil and gas. This, I must add, is also the case in several other countries of the world.”

Actions

She said: “Having identified some of the key challenges women face in the Industry, it is also pertinent to emphasize that pressing for, or creating affirmative action policies are not sufficient in themselves to actualize this course. Thus, it is instructive to recognize that fundamentally, the effective implementation of gender related policies is widely dependent on actions taken by women to acquire the requisite skills for technical positions taking into cognizance that affirmative action is not geared towards jettisoning quality for quantity.

“It is of great essence that present and aspiring female industry professionals pursue technically inclined disciplines, which will in turn expose them to better opportunities in the oil and gas industry. Industry players and stakeholders equally have the responsibility of addressing risks associated with material and emotional safety of women through gender sensitive HSE standards as well as pursuing gender smart recruitment legislation.”

Conclusion

However, the managing director, Nigeria Ports Authority, Mrs. Hadiza Bala-Usman, urged women in positions of authority to assist in the education and empowering of the less privileged women to enable them achieve not only their aspirations in the oil and gas industry, but also full potentials.

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