2 Responses

  1. Margaret Callan
    Margaret Callan October 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Dear Nick and Georgia

    This is really interesting research. Thanks for doing a blog to bring it to the attention of the Devpolicy audience. It raises so many issues that it’s hard to know where to start. One issue that stands out for me is your argument that mining company management recognised implicitly (how does that work? doesn’t someone have to recognise something ‘explicitly’ for it to become company policy?) that development benefits would be more likely to be achieved if women were involved so women’s involvement became part of the business case during the community negotiations. It isn’t usually women who are responsible for disruptive activities when local communities are dissatisfied with some aspect or other of mining operations, but your research suggests the company thought that women were important for building broader community support for this troubled mine. Yet in the event there is little evidence of positive development impacts in the villages. So we’re left wondering why women in other mining communities envy Ok Tedi women’s ‘gains’. The only conclusion I can draw is the rather sober one that women’s expectations in PNG are so low that anything is better than nothing. Women frequently gain very little from the enormous wealth and benefit flows generated by mining projects and they bear most of the costs, see recent research by the Porgera Environmental Advisory Komiti cited in my blog of 10 September. The second issue your research raises for me flows from this – if it was clear to the Ok Tedi company that positive development gains required more women’s engagement, why is women’s participation not a much greater focus for mining companies in general? Granted they will face opposition from male beneficiaries and maybe even the state, but if mining companies were to adopt common approaches to women’s participation in negotiations and benefit streams, wouldn’t this lead to greater acceptance of women as more equal participants? It would be great to get a comment from mining company representatives or the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum on the feasibility of an industry approach.

    1. Nicholas Menzies
      Nicholas Menzies October 11, 2012 at 12:10 am

      Thanks Margaret. The point about implicit/explicit is that it wasn’t necessarily company policy to include women – but something recognized as being beneficial (probably both intrinsically – for women themselves, and instrumentally – for the company and the broader community) by company leadership. It would be fascinating to unearth more research with other mining company representatives to see how they see it (if at all) and what factors are important for their decision making. In parallel it might be useful to foster better theories and evidence on the possible impacts of women’s inclusion (in both processes and outcomes). Does it, in fact, lead to broader community support? Does it lead to better use of benefits? Does it lead to better environmental mitigation strategies? If responses to these questions showed positive developmental gains (or not) that would be useful for both companies and governments – as well as development practitioners.

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