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Boom-time Blues: Big Oil's Gender Impacts in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Sakhalin

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F. Bacheva
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Why is it that extractive industries often bring massive short-term benefits to 'boom towns' but harm weaker social groups, including women, in the process? This study shows that two oil projects (the US$3 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Export Oil Pipeline 'BTC' in Azerbaijan and Georgia and the Sakhalin II oil and gas projects on Sakhalin Island) have caused considerable social and gender difficulties in local communities. However, neither the World Bank nor the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) (both lenders to the BTC pipeline project, and the EBRD a potential lender to phase 2 of the Sakhalin II project) have put policies and practices in place which safeguard the rights of women by ensuring that social management, community development, and consultations reach out to women and protect them from gender-based human rights violations. Local people report that the BTC pipeline and Sakhalin II projects have brought increased poverty, hindered access to subsistence resources, increased occurrence of still births, pushed more women into sex work, and raised HIV/AIDS rates and other diseases in local communities.