By Adibe Emenyonu
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has disclosed that his administration is working to close the gender gap in education and labour through legislation.
Obaseki disclosed this yesterday in Benin at a workshop by Women in Mining Nigeria (WIMIN) with the theme: “Mainstreaming Gender in The Solid Mineral Sector in Edo and Sponsored by Ford Foundation.”
Obaseki, who was represented by his Commissioner for Gas, Oil and Mineral, Mr. Ethan Uzamere, noted that gender imbalance in the mining sector is an enabler for exploitation of women with very little mitigating factors or policies put in place.
He said: “We are not oblivious of the fact that certain laws and cultural sensitivities preclude women from participating in mining.
“For example, section 56 of the Nigerian labour law does not permit women to engage in underground mining. That is why with the support of our legislators we can seek to affect the closure of the gender gap in education, work or labour.”
According to Obaseki, “another major factor limiting the participation of women in mining, thereby leaving them as mere artisanal miners only good for menial labour, is the lack of capital and disparity in pay.
“As a state, we have invested so much in technology and we encourage women especially to be the prime gainers.
“We acknowledge that with the effective deployment of technology, areas of mining hitherto seen as meant for men only will become areas open for women participation.”
In her address, the President of WIMIN, Mrs. Janet Adeyemi, said despite the significant number of women involved in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASSM) in various capacities, there is a serious lack of recognition in almost all spheres.
Adeyemi, who was represented by Mrs. Tope Omage, listed the sectors to include development programs, public and private sectors, mining communities and academia.
She said: “There is an invisibility problem whereby women’s contributions to the mining sector are masked by the dominant reflection of men’s roles in discussions of mining, thus erasing the participation of women.
“Unfortunately, one of the most important reasons why women have remained invisible is that research has historically focused, to a large extent, on digging practices.”
Omage noted that women in artisanal mining do some of the processing activities at home while attending to their children and domestic work, and so their involvement in mining sites is limited, contributing to their invisibility.
On her part, the State Commissioner for Social Development and Gender Issues, Mrs. Maria Edeko, said women needed access to funding and technology to drive their participation in the sector.
“Mainstreaming the women is a contemporary global initiative and I am glad that women are going into a rare area,” she stated.