Case #732
Title: Nigerian Women Triumph Over Multinational Oil Facilities
Summary: In mid-July of 2002, approximately 1,500 local Ijaw tribal women peacefully took over and held for ten days Nigerian Delta oil facilities belonging to the multinational company ChevronTexaco. The women held between 700 and 1,000 Canadian, American, British, and Nigerian workers inside the oil facilities, but eventually released all of the hostages unharmed. Possibly based on a similar inland occupation previously staged by woman from another local tribe, the occupation protested the years-long abuse of local communities, economies, and the environment.

The women had goals of forcing promises from the oil company for the granting of permanent jobs to locals, helping residents to build fish and chicken farms, and the provision of schools, clinics, town halls, electricity and water systems in local villages. The women demanded long-term benefits and the oil executives insisted on shorter-term commitments. At one point, the Nigerian women threatened to remove their clothes - a powerful traditional shaming gesture. In a public statement at the end of the takeover, the company executive and top negotiator stated, "We now have a different philosophy and that is to do more with communities (rather than dealing with things issue to issue)." A total of three million barrels of oil was lost to the crisis. Translated into monetary terms, this amounted to $78 million.

This story gained worldwide media coverage, perhaps because of its peaceful nature and possibly because the main local actors were women. The women were well organized, displayed the "strength in numbers" strategy, and utilized surprise as important ingredients in the direct action takeover. The threat to disrobe was a culturally appropriate and powerful tool to use to gain their goals. As stated in the second source article, the questions now are: "Will Chevron keep its promises? Will it really serve as warning shots to other oil companies? Is the Federal Government prepared to move in and aid the cause for which the Niger Delta is on the boil again?" Only time will tell. In the meantime, Anunu Uwawah, one of the women leaders offered this advice: "I give one piece of advice to all women in all countries: they shouldn't let any company cheat them."

Location: Nigeria
Action: Human Rights, Peace/Conflict Resolution, Corporate/Economic Abuses, Worker Rights
Setting: Third World
Extent of Action: Local
Categories: Human Rights, Peace/Conflict Resolution, Corporate/Economic Abuses, Worker Rights
Year(s): 2002
Outcome successful for now
Source: Associated Press through CorpWatch and This Day (Lago Newspaper)

Prepared By: sl, 11/02
Rating: 1