Gender refers to men and women and their differing roles, rights and responsibilities. Gender issues impact the private sector in numerous ways both within companies and in the communities where they work. Historically, the extractive industry and other large projects have disproportionally employed and benefited men, while the burden of extractive development impacts has been greater on women.

Building better equity between both men and women to achieve proportional benefits requires an understanding of the dynamics behind gender relationships, the roots of discrimination and project planning that specifically considers gender. A gender-sensitive perspective helps companies better understand and manage their impacts and build mitigation strategies that have a greater chance of success. Finally, gender equality is a fundamental human right.

There is a rich body of literature, tools and publications discussing gender and how to incorporate gender sensitive strategies into business and into the company’s relationships and community development programs with local stakeholders. Companies can work to improve the economic empowerment of women by improving access to employment, micro-credit, skills training and business development. Ensuring equal representation of men and women among community leaders who negotiate company activities and community concerns can increase social empowerment. Health and education campaigns, adult literacy programs and education programs should consider equal access for men and women.