As part of efforts to promote women participation in the mining sector, Women in Mining (WIM), Ghana has organised a two-day sub national policy dialogue in Ahwetieso in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality.
The meeting sought to afford stakeholders the opportunity to discuss issues of gender inclusion and their implications for policy formulation.
Addressing participants, Mrs Georgette Sakyi-Addo President, WIM Ghana said, the organisation was established in 2015 with the objective to advocate the full participation of women along the mining value chain.
She said in line with that, their aim in the regional dialogue programme was to listen to the strategies, policies and interventions recommended by various institutions.
Mrs Sakyi-Addo further said it was also an opportunity for the participants to share their stories, gains, challenges, and recommendations to help shape the development of gender sensitive policies for the sector.
She noted that responsible sourcing, environmental, social and governance frameworks and sustainability, are emerging issues that could help grow their industry positively.
“People are at the centre of these concepts. When you take care of people, you take actions that will improve your score cards and Sustainability matrix. In Africa, women make up over 50 percent of the population. So, let us take care of women in the mining sector”
In that regard, WIM with support from the Ford Foundation, undertook an eight-month study on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the mining sector in Ghana. The geographic areas for the study were in the Western and Eastern Regions.
“The research examined women living in communities affected by the decision to mine, women working in the Artisanal & Small-Scale mining sector, women entrepreneurs offering services and supplies to the mining sector and women working professionally in the mining sector”
For professional women in the industry, the report highlighted concerns such as discrimination and harassment, retaliation from superiors for reporting incidents of harassment, lack of leadership, mentorship, and gender-insensitive work environments that make the workplace unreceptive to many women in the mining industry.
Additionally, it was observed that women in mining communities faced challenges such as low education levels, poor health, lack of skills, absence of formal employment, poor community leadership, and unequal access to mining benefits which consequently increased their socioeconomic vulnerabilities.
Under small-scale mining, the report highlighted the lucrative nature of informal (galamsey) mining for many young boys and girls who eventually drop out of school. Reports of discrimination in issuing concessions for small scale mining were also reported by some women in the communities.
“Another area of concern in the report was the lack of access to financial aid for women who work as entrepreneurs in the industry. Many are pushing for financial institutions to include gender-based financing options that are accessible to them.”
“This report is one of the many steps WIM is undertaking to achieve its objectives. Engaging various industry players, local governments, national regulators, and other community stakeholders is evidence of this.
It is demonstrative of commitment, and we are all encouraged to fully utilize this platform and opportunity to project and find solutions to our common concerns and challenges,” she noted.
Giving an overview of the Gender Mainstreaming Programme, Mr Hillary Konadu Awuah, project coordinator said in October 2021, WIM Ghana received funding support from Ford Foundation West Africa to implement the said project to enhance the advocacy agenda for gender inclusion in the mining sector.
The project intended to increase women participation in the mineral value chain at three levels of implementation.
At the continental level, he said they established the office of Association of Women in Mining Africa (AWIMA) in Ghana to strengthen the administrative and institutional structures for effective implementation of activities.
Mr Awuah explained that at the subregional level, WIM-Ghana is collaborating with Women in Mining of West Africa (WIMOWA) to sensitize women in the geo-extractive sector on the Draft ECOWAS Gender Charter among countries in the West African region.
According to him, quarterly meetings were held to support the capacity building efforts of WIMOWA for their member countries through online presentations, workshops, and webinars.
At the country level, WIM Ghana has commissioned a study to assess the gender gaps in the current mining laws, determine the levels and forms of gender injustice, discrimination, and diversity in Ghana’s mining sector, he explained.
The project coordinator emphasized that promoting women participation in the mining sector is a daunting task which required, the collaboration from all sector actors such as government, regulatory institutions, mining companies, local authorities, among others.
The queen mother of Apinto Divisional Council, Nana Abena Boaduwaa II, expressed appreciation to the organisers for including the Western Region in this all important programme.