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Multi-National Corporations

Adding a Gender Perspective to China's Belt and Road Initiative as an International Human Rights Obligation


Haina, Lu. 2019. “Adding a Gender Perspective to China's Belt and Road Initiative as an International Human Rights Obligation.” Frontiers of Law in China 14 (4): 455-77.

Author: Lu Haina


China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has a significant impact on the gender equality of receiving countries. It is noted that many BRI countries are facing challenges to realizing gender equality. Nevertheless, China has not developed a gender-mainstreaming or rights-based approach to implement the BRI. Hence, this paper argues that it is China’s international human rights obligation to develop such an approach and the country should adopt a gender policy in its BRI to ensure that its overseas investments and aid programs respect and promote gender equality. First, this paper maps China’s overseas investments and aid globally and particularly in BRI countries, and examines, in general, how the BRI may have an impact on gender equality both globally and in BRI countries. Second, the paper reviews international standards on gender equality in transnational trade and foreign investment and aid projects in the context of international human rights’ norms. It clarifies China’s obligations to promote gender equality within the BRI framework under international law. Third, based on the aforementioned findings, this paper conducts a gap analysis on the gender policy followed by China’s overseas investment and aid programs set within the context of international standards. Finally, the paper recommends some possible policy steps to ensure gender equality is mainstreamed in BRI projects of China.

Keywords: gender equality, Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, China's overseas investment, foreign aid, human rights

Topics: Development, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Infrastructure, International Law, International Human Rights, Multi-National Corporations, Privatization, Rights, Human Rights Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: China

Year: 2019

When Subterranean Slavery Supports Sustainability Transitions? Power, Patriarchy, and Child Labor in Artisanal Congolese Cobalt Mining


Sovacool, Benjamin K. 2021. “When Subterranean Slavery Supports Sustainability Transitions? Power, Patriarchy, and Child Labor in Artisanal Congolese Cobalt Mining.” The Extractive Industries and Society 8 (1): 271–93.

Author: Benjamin K. Sovacool


Through the critical lenses of “modern slavery,” “dispossession,” and “gendering,” this study examines the contours of power, patriarchy, and child labor in the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). There, a veritable mining boom for cobalt is underway, driven by rising global demand for batteries and other modern digital devices needed for future sustainability transitions. Based on extensive and original field research in the DRC—including 23 semi-structured expert interviews with a purposive sample, 48 semi-structured community interviews with ASM miners, traders, and community mem­ bers, and site visits to 17 artisanal mines, processing centers, and trading depots—this study asks: What power relations does ASM cobalt mining embed? What are its effects on patriarchy and gender relations? Critically, what is the extent and severity of child labor? It documents the exploitation of ASM miners by the government, the police, and even at times other mining actors such as traders or local communities. It reveals the often invisible gendered nature of mining, showing how many vulnerabilities—in terms of work, status, social norms, and sexual abuse and prostitution—fall disproportionately on women and girls. It lastly reveals sobering patterns of child labor and abuse, again at times by the government or police, but other times by families or mining communities themselves. These factors can at times make cobalt mining a modern form of slavery and a catalyst for social, economic, and even regional dispossession. However, rather than despair, the study also draws from its empirical data to showcase how mining can in selected situations empower. It also proposes a concerted mix of policy reforms aimed the Congolese government (at all scales, including local and national); suppliers and enduser companies for cobalt; and international governments and trading bodies. In doing so, the study humanizes the plight of Congolese cobalt artisanal miners, reveals the power relations associated with the recent mining boom, and also proposes pathways for positive change.

Keywords: artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Copper, Cobalt, modern slavery, disposession

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Girls, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Governance, Multi-National Corporations, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2021

Beyond Victimisation: Gendered Legacies of Mining, Participation, and Resistance


Sinclair, Lian. 2021. “Beyond Victimisation: Gendered Legacies of Mining, Participation, and Resistance.” The Extractive Industries and Society (January): 1-10.

Author: Lian Sinclair


Mining developments, corporate-community conflict, and participatory community development programs can have diverse gendered impacts on people affected by mining. Thus, changing gendered relations are amongst the social, economic, and political legacies of mining. Despite growing literature on the gendered impacts of mining, little explains how and why particular developments produce divergent legacies. This paper builds on feminist understandings of primitive accumulation and social reproduction theory to understand the rapid economic, social and political change that reconfigures gendered relations between and within groups of men and women. Drawing on research across three case studies in Indonesia, I argue that while mining developments can disproportionately disadvantage women, resistance work and participation in corporate social responsibility programs (CSR) may be empowering. This paper thus moves beyond the ‘women-as-victims’ approach to uncover the social, economic, and political foundations of inequality that may be disrupted or reinforced by mining, participation and resistance. The implications of this for mining governance policy, CSR and NGOs are that gendered legacies of mining depend on how resistance or participation create opportunities to overcome structural inequalities exacerbated by mining.

Keywords: gender, Indonesia, political participation, resistance, social reproduction theory

Topics: Extractive Industries, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Indonesia

Year: 2021

Mining Companies and Gender(Ed) Policies: The Women of the Congolese Copperbelt, Past and Present


Pugliese, Francesca. 2020. “Mining Companies and Gender(Ed) Policies: The Women of the Congolese Copperbelt, Past and Present.” The Extractive Industries and Society (August).

Author: Francesca Pugliese


Mining companies of the past and present have promoted specific roles for men and women through their management practices. In DR Congo, first colonial and then state-owned companies naturalised the role of men as employees and breadwinners. At the same time, women were assigned responsibility for reproduction and were understood as being financially dependent on men’s salary, either that of their fathers or husbands. By contrast, some LSM (large-scale mining) companies today support gender equality programmes, mainly to improve their corporate reputation. Drawing on the literature on women in the industrial extractive sector elsewhere in the world, I show how these discourses and processes continue to produce Congolese Copperbelt mines as masculine spaces at different levels. I then move to the ethnographic component of the paper by arguing that new investors’ gender practices and equality policies are not easily implemented in the area. On the con­ trary, they have to confront a region marked by the paternalistic social policies of mining companies in the past, which have entrenched a certain gender hegemony. Through the biographies of different women involved in the industrial mining sector past and present, I show the effects of mining companies’ policies on gender roles in Haut-Katanga Province.

Keywords: women in mining, gendered policies, gender equality, Congolese Copperbelt

Topics: Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Masculinity/ies, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Patriarchy, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2020

Gender, Regulation, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Extractive Sector: The Case of Equinor’s Social Investments in Tanzania


Lange, Siri, and Victoria Wyndham. 2021. “Gender, Regulation, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Extractive Sector: The Case of Equinor’s Social Investments in Tanzania.” Women’s Studies International Forum 84 (January—February).

Authors: Siri Lange, Victoria Wyndham


Multinational corporations have been criticised for their rhetorical support to - as opposed to substantive engagement with - gender equality in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in poor countries. Many host countries have started regularizing CSR in recent years, and there is great variation between countries and different sectors when it comes to the gendered dimensions of social investments. This article focuses on the factors that influence CSR in the petroleum sector, using Equinor in Tanzania as a case study. We argue that national regulations in host countries, perceptions of risk, as well as the need to gain ‘a social license to operate’ from host communities, means that the gendered dimensions of CSR in the petroleum sector differ in important ways from other sectors. The study also shows that company ownership by a state that profiles itself as a champion in gender equality does not in itself lead to gender sensitive social investments. The main ‘bene­ficiaries’ of Equinor’s social investments in Tanzania are men, but this fact is disguised by using a gender neutral language in CSR reporting.

Topics: Extractive Industries, Gender, Men, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 2021

Integrating a Gender Perspective into Transparency and Accountability Initiatives: Three Case Studies


Powell, Alice. 2017. “Integrating a Gender Perspective into Transparency and Accountability Initiatives: Three Case Studies.” Gender & Development 25 (3): 489–507. 

Author: Alice Powell


Natural resource wealth is not shared equally by all. While elites may capture the profits disproportionately in many contexts, marginalised social groups – including women – are less likely to experience the benefits of extraction, and are affected differently by virtue of their gendered roles in the economy and society. Women also tend to be less able to participate in decision-making forums relating to extractive questions. International transparency and accountability initiatives have been seeking to improve the management of natural resources through promoting citizen involvement and information disclosure in the extractive sector. Recently, some are also trying to incorporate gender issues into their work to ensure that women’s experiences and voices are not excluded from the transparency movement. This article draws on evidence from transparency and accountability initiatives to show how they have tried to do this, in a field which has long been perceived as gender-neutral. It highlights some of the key challenges faced by these initiatives, as well as lessons they have learned in their work.

La riqueza que se genera a partir de los recursos naturales no se distribuye equitativamente. Mientras en muchos contextos las élites pueden obtener utilidades desproporcionadas, los grupos sociales marginales — incluyendo las mujeres — tienen menos probabilidad de conseguir cualquier beneficio derivado de las actividades extractivas. Por otra parte, en el caso de las mujeres éstas son afectadas de manera diferente en virtud de sus roles de género en la economía y la sociedad. Además existe la tendencia a que tengan menos oportunidades de participar en los espacios de toma de decisiones asociados a la industria extractiva. Ciertas iniciativas orientadas a mejorar la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas a nivel internacional buscan mejorar la gestión de recursos naturales promoviendo la participación ciudadana y la divulgación de información en el sector extractivo. Recientemente, otras iniciativas han intentado incorporar a su trabajo cuestiones de género, a fin de asegurar que las experiencias y las voces de las mujeres no queden excluidas del movimiento a favor de la transparencia. El presente artículo da cuenta de evidencia surgida de varias iniciativas que promueven la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas para mostrar cómo se han realizado en un ámbito que durante mucho tiempo fue percibido como neutral ante el género. Asimismo, destaca algunos de los principales retos que deben enfrentar dichas iniciativas y los aprendizajes que resultan de su implementación.

Les richesses liées aux ressources naturelles ne sont pas réparties de manière égale. Tandis que les élites accaparent les bénéfices de manière disproportionnée dans de nombreux contextes, les groupes sociaux marginalisés – y compris les femmes – ont moins de chances de profiter des avantages de l’exploitation de ces ressources, et sont touchés différemment en raison de leurs rôles sexo-spécifiques au sein de l’économie et de la société. Par ailleurs, les femmes sont généralement moins à même de prendre part aux forums de prise de décisions pour ce qui est des questions relatives à l’extraction. Il existe des initiatives internationales en matière de transparence et de redevabilité qui cherchent à améliorer la gestion des ressources naturelles en favorisant la participation des citoyens et la divulgation des informations dans le secteur de l’extraction. Depuis peu, certaines tentent aussi d’incorporer les questions relatives au genre dans leur travail pour veiller à ce que les expériences et les voix des femmes ne soient pas exclues du mouvement en faveur de la transparence. Cet article s’inspire des données factuelles provenant d’initiatives relatives à la transparence et à la redevabilité pour montrer comment elles ont tenté de faire tout cela, dans un domaine qui est perçu depuis longtemps comme neutre sur le plan du genre. Il met en relief certaines des principales difficultés rencontrées par ces initiatives, ainsi que ce qu’elles ont appris dans le cadre de leur travail.

Keywords: gender, natural resources, transparency, governance, extractive sector

Topics: Civil Society, Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Multi-National Corporations

Year: 2017

Climate Change and Feminist Environmentalism in the Niger Delta, Nigeria


Amadi, Luke A., Mina M. Ogbanga, and James E. Agena. 2015. “Climate Change and Feminist Environmentalism in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.” African Journal of Political Science and International Relations 9 (9): 361–71.

Authors: Luke A. Amadi, Mina M. Ogbanga, James E. Agena


Feminist environmentalist debate explores possible linkages between women and environmental issues such as inequality. One of the most pressing global problem at the centre of this debate is climate change vulnerability. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) creates global policy awareness on the realities of climate change vulnerability, women in the poor coastal regions of the periphery societies such as the Niger Delta, Nigeria, prone to environmental degradation seem to be missing out. This subject matter has been of immense policy concern. The increase in recent decades of environmental disasters, deleterious effects of oil resource exploitation by the Multinational Corporations (MNCs), pollution, gas flaring, acid rain, sea level rise, ozone layer depletion, global warming and related pressures, provide the need to explore feminist environmental challenges. As all such problems manifest with divergent climate related implications, the most fundamental challenge they pose to women seem less talked about. Niger Delta women who are largely bread winners in most rural households are at risk as their subsistence relies heavily on the natural environment such as farming, fishing, petty trading, gathering of periwinkles, oysters, crayfish etc. To explore this dynamic, the study deployed a desk review of relevant secondary data to examine possible linkages between feminist environmentalism and climate change mitigation. Findings suggest that climate change, mitigation has been minimal. The paper made some policy recommendations.

Keywords: environmental security, climate change, women, development, Niger Delta

Topics: Development, Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Nigeria

Year: 2015

Women's Leadership in Renewable Transformation, Energy Justice and Energy Democracy: Redistributing Power


Allen, Elizabeth, Hannah Lyons, and Jennie C. Stephens. 2019. “Women’s Leadership in Renewable Transformation, Energy Justice and Energy Democracy: Redistributing Power.” Energy Research & Social Science 57 (November). doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2019.101233.

Authors: Elizabeth Allen, Hannah Lyons, Jennie C. Stephens


As women take on more leadership roles in the United States advancing social and political change, analysis of women’s contributions to the transformation occurring within the energy sector is critically important. Grassroots movements focused on energy justice and energy democracy focus on: (1) resisting the power of large multinational fossil fuel energy companies that exacerbate inequities and disparities in energy, (2) reclaiming the energy sector with more community and public control to redisitrbute benefits and risks, and (3) restructuring the energy sector to prioritize equity and justice with community ownership and distributed governance. This research analyzes women’s leadership by focusing on how two women-led, non-profit organizations are advancing the renewable energy transition, operationalizing the concept of energy democracy and contributing to the energy justice movement. The two organizations are Grid Alternatives, a solar installation and workforce training organization, and Mothers Out Front, an advocacy organization focused on addressing climate change by promoting a transition to renewable energy. These organizations differ in their mission and approaches, yet both intentionally link climate and energy action with other forms of social justice activism, by expanding community engagement, strengthening participation, and fundamentally redistributing power to promote a transition to more equitable, resilient and sustainable energy systems. This paper contributes to the theoretical understanding of gender in energy justice and energy democracy movements, and to the practical consideration of the role that women’s leadership is playing in accelerating energy system change and advancing the principles of energy justice and energy democracy. 

Keywords: gender, energy, renewable energy, fossil fuels, energy justice, energy democracy, power

Topics: Civil Society, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Energy, Justice, Multi-National Corporations, Political Participation Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2019

Illicit Financial Flows: Why We Should Claim These Resources for Gender, Economic, and Social Justice


Waris, Attiya. 2017. Illicit Financial Flows: Why We Should Claim These Resources for Gender, Economic, and Social Justice. Toronto: Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID).

Author: Attiya Waris


“This brief focuses on international illicit financial flows (IFFs) and why these ‘lost’ resources should be claimed for gender, economic and social justice.
It will explore the following three issues:
1.     Understand the basic concept of IFFs and highlight their disproportional gender impact, in relation to the drain in developing countries of critical resources, for the advancement of women’s human rights.
2.     Unveil the current legal and political frameworks that allow multinational corporations to benefit from tax abuse to the detriment of people and planet
3.     Provide recommendations, from a feminist perspective, on how to demand transparency and corporate accountability in order to curb illicit financial flows" (Waris n.d., 7).

Topics: Development, Economies, Public Finance, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Men, Multi-National Corporations, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2017

The Gender of Globalization: Women Navigating Cultural and Economics Marginalities


Kingsolver, Ann, and Nandini Gunewardena, eds. 2008. The Gender of Globalization: Women Navigating Cultural and Economics Marginalities. Oxford: School for Advanced Research Press.

Authors: Ann Kingsolver, Nandini Gunewardena


As "globalization" moves rapidly from buzzword to cliche, evaluating the claims of neoliberal capitalism to empower and enrich remains urgently important. The authors in this volume employ feminist, ethnographic methods to examine what free trade and export processing zones, economic liberalization, and currency reform mean to women in Argentina, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Ghana, the United States, India, Jamaica, and many other places (Summary from Jacket).
Table of Contents:
1. Feminist methodology as a tool for ethnographic inquiry on globalization
Faye V. Harrison
2. Disrupting subordination and negotiating belonging : women workers in the transnational production sites of Sri Lanka
Nandini Gunewardena
3. Making hay while the sun shines : Ghanaian female traders and their insertion into the global economy
Akosua K. Darkwah
4. Clothing difference : commodities and consumption in Southeastern Liberia
Mary H. Moran
5. Progressive women, traditional men : globalization, migration, and equality in the northern periphery of the European Union
Ulrika Dahl
6. Neoliberal policy as structural violence : its links to domestic violence in black communities in the United States
William L. Conwill
7. Gendered bodily scars of neoliberal globalization in Argentina
Barbara Sutton
8. Geographies of race and class : the place and placelessness of migrant Filipina domestic workers
Rhacel Salazar Parreñas
9. Sticking to the union : anthropologists and "union maids" in San Francisco
Sandy Smith-Nonini
10. "The Caribbean is on sale" : globalization and women tourist workers in Jamaica
A. Lynn Bolles
11. In the fields of free trade : gender and plurinational en/countering of neoliberal agricultural policies
Ann Kingsolver
12. Globalization, "swadeshi", and women's movements in Orissa, India
Annapurna Pandey
13. Complex negotiations : gender, capitalism, and relations of power
Mary Anglin and Louise Lamphere
14. Navigating paradoxical globalizations
Ann Kingsolver
15. Reconstituting marginality : gendered repression and women's resistance
Nandini Gunewardena.

Topics: Economies, Globalization, Multi-National Corporations, Privatization Regions: Africa, North Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, North America, South America, Asia, South Asia, Europe, Western Europe Countries: Argentina, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Liberia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, United States of America

Year: 2008


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