Dr. Laine Munir 

Dr. Munir surveyed the relationship between the resource curse and gender by drawing on illustrative cases in sub-Saharan Africa. She outlined the challenges posed in Nigeria, Angola, Liberia, and the DRC. Too often, the discovery of natural resources is seen as a boon in the Global South. It is touted as a panacea for slow economic growth and overall lack of development as low-income countries focus all their efforts on extraction. However, research reveals a “paradox of plenty,” or a tendency for natural resources to have negative effects in developing countries. These effects disproportionately impact women. Resource wealth leads to lower levels of workforce participation. It also contributes to economic volatility and currency inflation that further impoverishes women, the majority of those living below the poverty line. Natural resources are shown to worsen the quality of governance and increase levels of corruption, cronyism, and repression, marginalizing women in the political sphere.       

Additionally, there is evidence that natural resource endowments in the developing world impel, exacerbate, and prolong conflicts that increase gender-based violence. Resource profits allow governments to shore up the military and opposition parties to arm insurgents, thus increasing the degree of militarized sexual violence against women. Several studies show natural resources make endowed states less cooperative internationally, as they are less likely to be punished by other countries for failing to uphold standards for women’s rights.      

Dr. Laine Munir is a Research Fellow in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (SCAR) at George Mason University’s Korea campus. Her research interests include gender, African politics, and conflicts in developing economies. Her current research interrogates the relationship between natural resource economies and the status of women. She has done bilingual aid work with non-profits in Bolivia and Honduras, as well as served in the Peace Corps in Mozambique.