Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
A non-profit organisation, Women in Mining Nigeria (WIMIN), has lamented the low inclusion and limitations of women in the operations of the mining sector in the country.
President, WIMIN Janet Adeyemi while delivering her opening remarks at the organisation’s maiden meeting in Abuja, stated that the organisation has agitated for so long to be accommodated in the sector.
According to her, “Before now, nobody talks about women in mining but, if you look at the policies and the recent activities of government, women are now given opportunity to even speak.
“In mining, when you talk about small scale mining, we have about eight to 10 women that are doing very well. In miners’ association, we have about four to five women and then you have lots of women in the artisan sector, and in the labour sector there are more women because it’s cheaper labour, they carry the loads and provide the manual services.”
Adeyemi stressed that the organisation is not satisfied with the 2 per cent. “The 2 per cent is talking about licensing and that’s just an aspect of it, we have a whole lot of things to do in the sector, value chain has nothing to do with licence.
“When you look at the whole sector holistically, you know that there has been a movement. For the first time, the ministry organised a workshop purposely to mainstream gender in the system, so what we now need to do is for us to sit down and articulate position and ensure that its done.
“From ground zero when you’re not heard at all, where there are no policies around you and to a situation when you are not being listened to. In the ministry before you don’t even have women as staff, all you have is women as secretary or typists but now you have women that are heading directorate. So for me I think it’s a movement and that movement must be acknowledged,” Adeyemi said.
Similarly, the Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu, noted that the policies and laws in mining are stacked against women.
According to Baiyewu, “Labor law forbids women to go into underground mines between the hours of 10pm and 5am while their male colleagues can do that and you also think of extension services, most of the mining cooperatives are male dominated, women don’t get extension services or assistance from the ministry.
“The laws are masculine and not friendly to the female gender, when community development or agreements are made, women are not at the table and that makes it very difficult for women in mining.”
Baiyewu said: “When the impact come they come first to the women, when the benefits come they go to the men.”
He however advised government on economic and social impact assessment, adding that: “49 per cent of our population is poor and don’t have access to certain areas of our economy like mining then we will remain poor. When you think of social impact of mining on women’s health then we should make mining safer, a review of the laws, looking at those factors that militate against women and ensuring women have access to lands to be able to engage in mining.
“I believe the percentage can rise from this 2 per cent, it’s all about political will,” Baiyewu said.