General News of Thursday, 28 October 2010
The chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy and Mines, Moses Asaga, and the lead geologist of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation Lawrence Apaalse have advised Ghanaian women to forget about looking for jobs in the oil and gas sector because they are unsuited for the rigours of the job.
Speaking at a round table on gender and the petroleum industry on Wednesday, October 27, Mr. Asaga, who is also MP for Nabdam, said the nature of the industry makes it difficult to hire women for many of the jobs common in oil and gas exploration and production.
"Exploration is really very masculine," he told the assembled men and women. "You're talking about big, big tractors, and you're going to detonate things like bombs that make a huge noise that drown your ears, and you have to work in massive jungles with safety boots. When you look at it, it's really very masculine."
Mr. Apaalse of the GNPC backed up what Mr. Asaga had to say, adding that getting to and from offshore drill rigs would be too much for many women to handle.
The meeting was a chance for Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana, which is a women’s advocacy group, to make recommendations to the Ministry of Energy on ways it can ensure more women participate in the oil and gas industry.
Mr. Asaga went on to say that women can participate in less labour intensive aspects of the industry such as engineering and general office work.
In a sharp rebuttal a representative of Advocates and Trainers for Women’s Welfare and Rights, Ekua Ansah-Eshon, criticized their comments, saying their opinions are dangerous to the equality of women.
"That statement, mister, with due respect, please retract it," she said. "We don't want to hear that. Anything a man can do, a woman can do it. Let me ask this. When people used monkey ladders to get into ships, didn't women travel? We travelled. We sat in the basket and were pulled into the ships, and we travelled."
Dr. Thomas M. Akabzaa, a researcher and lecturer in Earth Science at the University of Ghana in Legon, was at the round table and said he realizes the oil sector has been male dominated, but added that it's not an excuse for governments to ignore the employment imbalance .
"That realization is a strong reason why carefully crafted clauses must be put in place to make sure women's issues are put in place to address this natural imbalance," he told Citi News.