Our Perspectives

The gender gap in extractive dependent countries

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DR CongoIn high extractive dependent countries, the average unemployment rate for women is 15% and 8% for men. Photo: UNDP in DR Congo

Can we use the revenues generated from oil, gas and minerals to reduce the gender gap in countries with abundant natural resources?

We found a statistically significant negative correlation between our Extractives Dependence Index (EDI) that ranks countries on their dependence on the extractive sector (where 0 equals no dependence and 100 equals highest dependence) and the Global Gender Gap Index (where 1 equals equality and 0 equals inequality). The Global Gender Gap Index for countries with the highest dependence on the extractive sector is 0.60 while it is 0.70 for the lowest dependent countries.

We further examined the difference between women and men in leadership positions and employment. In countries with high dependence on extractives, women make up 8.7% of ministerial level positions; they take up 9.5% of seats in national parliaments and hold 18.4% of senior and managerial positions. In countries with low dependence on extractives, the numbers are almost twice as high at 16.9%, 17.9% and 32.7%, respectively.

In high extractive dependent countries, the average unemployment rate for women is 15% and 8% for men. In the low extractive dependent countries, there is parity in a bad outcome; the unemployment rates are 8% for women and 7% for men. Similarly, in high extractive dependent countries, the ratio between unemployed female to male with tertiary education is 4 to 1. In low extractive dependent countries the ratio is 1.3 to 1.

Women also populate the low productive sectors, making up 21% of the employment in the non-agricultural sectors in the highly extractive dependent countries. The figure is 38% in the low extractive dependent countries. Women account for about 35% of the professional and technical work force in highly extractive dependent countries and 52% in low extractive dependent countries.

The gender disparity results from the extractive sector being susceptible to high capital intensity, male domination, rent seeking and declining share of manufacturing in national income.

So what are the policy implications for tackling such inequalities? One way is to allocate the revenues generated from royalties, corporate taxes and various fees to specific social and economic sectors.

For instance, Mongolia’s Human Development Fund, financed by the country’s mining royalties and dividends, has been earmarked for social protection schemes. Comparably, Nigeria’s recent National Health Bill earmarks 2% of the country’s oil revenues to primary health care.

It is time to shift policy attention towards a gender sensitive fiscal expenditure in resource dependent economies. This means investing the revenues from oil, gas and minerals in women and girls so that they enjoy equal access to leadership positions and employment in fields where they are traditionally underrepresented.

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