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Women’s war against Chevron in Escravos, Niger Delta, Nigeria

Women activists in the Niger Delta banded together for a wave of naked protests against Chevron for destroying the environment and livelihoods of many local villagers. This movement gained international attention and inspired other naked protests.


Nigeria is the sixth largest oil exporter worldwide [11]. Most of its oil comes from the Niger Delta, which fuels its entire economy. However, villagers there do not receive any of the economic benefits from the oil trade [5]. The delta used to be abundant with fish and farming, but  women, who are primarily responsible for such subsistence activities, report that land dispossession and pollution from the oil industries have destroyed the environment [1]. One U.S. company, ChevronTexaco (also known as simply “Chevron”), is particularly to blame for the shocking poverty and environmental degradation in Escravos, where schools often have no roofs or books, hospitals have no equipment or windows, there is little work, the villages have no sanitation [5]. Oil companies such as Chevron began such chaos owing to “male deals,” wherein some of the men in villages made deals with oil companies in hopes of bringing in economic development without the consent of the rest of the village, particularly without consent from women who were more intimately aware of the consequences of these deals from their subsistence work [2]. Christiana Mewe, a women’s activist group leader from Escravos, said, “Our land is sinking.  We cannot farm, we cannot kill fishes and crayfish from the river again, every where, pollution … It is the gas that Chevron burns that is causing it”  [3]. Ororo Irene, another female protest movement leader, added, “We have no good water source … Most of the time we have spillage, which brings oil to the river.  You cannot use it to wash clothes, how much less to bath … The gas that Chevron is burning, when the rainfalls into a drum, the water will be white.  It is the gas.  When we drink it we always fall sick.  The oldest person in town is no longer more than forty” (sic) [3]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Women’s war against Chevron in Escravos, Niger Delta, Nigeria
Location of conflict:Escravos
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Gas flaring
Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Chevron is one of the world's largest integrated energy companies. Chevron operates mostly in the onshore and near-offshore areas of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The company also has extensive interests in deepwater offshore Nigeria [13].ChevronTexaco's Nigerian subsidiary has awarded the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract totaling $1.7 billion for the Escravos facility in Nigeria [14]. Chevron is involved in natural gas projects in the western Niger Delta and Escravos areas, including the Escravos Gas Plant (EGP), the Escravos Gas-to-Liquids (EGTL) facility and the Sonam Field Development Project [10]. The Escravos export terminal processes 450,000 barrels a day [1]. The EGP has a total capacity of 680 million cubic feet per day of natural gas and LPG and a condensate export capacity of 58,000 barrels per day. Chevron and the NNPC operate the EGTL facility, a 33,000-barrel-per-day gas-to-liquids plant. The Sonam Field Development Project is designed to use the EGP facilities to deliver 215 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to the domestic gas market and produce a total of 30,000 barrels of liquids per day [10].

Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,700,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population: 500,000
Start of the conflict:08/07/2002
Company names or state enterprises:Chevron Nigeria Limited from Nigeria
Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) from Nigeria
Relevant government actors:Department of Petroleum Resources
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Niger Delta Women for Justice
Escravos Women Coalition
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Boycotts of companies-products
Protests of naked women
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Fires
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The initial protests in 2002-2003 succeeded in getting Chevron to promise some but not all desired community aid and one group of women did manage to shut down a single facility. The movement also inspired many more naked protests worldwide in the following years. However the aid was cut in 2005 and there has not been any news on the movement since. Chevron is still doing horrible things in Nigeria.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Journal of Asian and African Studies. Why Women are at War with Chevron: Nigerian Subsistence Struggles Against the International Oil Industry (Turner & Brownhill April 2004)
[click to view]

[16] ReliefWeb. Nigeria: Oil giant admits aid policies helped fuel violence (4 May 2005)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Dalena Tran, ICTA, [email protected]
Last update07/03/2020
Conflict ID:4903
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