The thinking that women would remain at the back seat in virtually all aspects of a nation’s socio-economic lives recently came up for mention when a new study by the Global Energy Talent Index Report highlighted that there was chronic shortage of women in the oil and gas industry occupying strategic positions.
The report further indicates that women occupy a paltry 15 per cent of technical and field role positions as against the 50 percent of non-technical positions at entry level.
“Gender diversity decreases with seniority with only a tiny proportion of women in executive positions. The percentage of women in the industry drops over time from 36 per cent to 24 per cent between the middle and executive level,” says the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
To address the imbalance and increase the 15 per cent figure of women participation in the oil and gas industry, especially at the management cadre level, stakeholders, including the regulator -the NDCMB and Federal Government recently converged on Lagos in search of gender friendly policies at the maiden edition of Women in Oil and Gas Industry Workshop with the theme, “Mainstreaming Women In The Oil And Gas Industry”.
Acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan, and her counterpart, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, both lamented the low number of women participation in the sector, pledging to reverse the trend with robust and all-inclusive gender policies.
Some of the participants, mostly operators and employees in the oil and gas sector, equally lamented the setback, saying the low participation of women was a disservice to the industry and the country at large.
They pledged to work with the relevant government agencies, including the National Assembly to ensure that a certain percentage of workforce oil in the oil and gas sector was dedicated to women in a bid to close the 15 per cent gap.
NCDMB pledges gender friendly policies
Wabote promised that women operators in the Nigerian oil and gas industry will soon benefit from gender friendly policies on access to funding, award of contracts and support for research and development, courtesy of NCDMB.
He noted that since the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act was instituted as a deliberate agenda to get more Nigerians to participate in the oil and gas industry, there should also be special initiatives to encourage women participation in the sector.
He said NCDMB will review its strategy on the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund), adding ‘‘that access to finance is very important and we will look at our policy to see how we can support women who are serious to do business.
Already two companies managed by women have benefitted from the NCI Fund because NCDMB took deliberate actions to ensure that,’’ Wabote said.
The Executive Secretary assured that the Board would work with project promoters in the oil and gas industry to ensure the award of some contracts to companies owned by women, including the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company, which is set to start the execution of the Train 7 project.
He also confirmed that ”out of the total number trained by the Board, women constitute about 20 percent of the trainees and we hope to increase the number of women trained to meet up the industry skilled labour demand.
Looking at some of the challenges such as career advancement, untapped talents, gender imbalance and limited presence of women in technical roles are some of the challenges 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.” the ES stated.
He expressed NCDMB’s determination to play the role in human capacity development, stressing that 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 & 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.’’
The ES stated that 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 and implored women to take advantage of the NOGICD Act.
FG, NPA to challenge women
Yemi-Esan, assured of the commitment and collaboration of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to facilitate the formulation
of gender smart policies as well as supporting relevant Ministries Departments and Agencies(MDAs) in gathering reliable women specific data for the industry.
“We will also uphold gender-responsible budgeting through the expansion of gender desks, which are targeted at ensuring the inclusion of women and girls in their respective activities,” she said.
She expressed hope that the workshop would catalyse other dialogues to be initiated by the Board and complement other ongoing activities, programmes and policies of government to propel Nigeria to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goals 4, 5 and 10.
The Acting HOS insisted that Nigeria should “go beyond the rhetoric of having a quota for women in decision making or other strategic positions by ensuring that the country maximizes the economic potential of its whole labour force by promoting equal rights, access and opportunities for all at all levels.”
She emphasized that effective implementation of gender related policies is 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.
Yemi-Esan underscored the need for present and aspiring female industry professionals to pursue technically inclined disciplines, which will in turn expose them to better opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
The plans, according to her, include; training and retraining of government’s workforce, increase in jobs’ quota for women, review of their core competencies, putting them in areas where they are needed, creation of jobs for women, among others.
She said the move had become imperative in order to harness the potentials of women for economic growth.
She said the administration of President Muhammad Buhari, has formulated and implemented policies, which recognises the roles of women in nation building.
Thus, she said, is evident in the appointment of women into key positions in the country.
She said she does not believe in quota system, which according to her, has denied many women the opportunities to realise their goals.
She said: “ When we are talking about the issue of quota system in Nigeria, we are talking about to put some people down, especially women, who are not all priveledged to assume higher offices. Saying this also means that women are not ready to compete with men folks in the oil and gas industry. If we ask men for quota of what we(women) should do, they( men) would take up everything. Instead, women should have equal opportunities in the all professions.”
For her part, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, charged career women to define themselves around capacity and capability and not just because they are women. “When you get there, you must prove that you are capable.”