The Women in Mining in Nigeria (WIMIN) organization has expressed their disappointment with the low level of women’s participation in the mining sector, which they believe is mainly due to gender inequality and discrimination.
This has resulted in many women being denied access to mining sites, thereby depriving them of many economic opportunities that could improve their lives, and WIMIN believes that this trend must stop.
WIMIN has noted that there are about 44 mineral deposits in 500 locations scattered across the 36 states of the federation, but much has not been done by various administrations to tap these mineral resources for the overall development of the country.
WIMIN also noted that while there are about two million artisanal miners and other small scale entrepreneurs in the country, the population of women in the mining sector is very low, and they called on all women to actively participate in the sector.
In response to this issue, WIMIN organized a two-day policy dialogue series in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital, to sensitize women miners and other stakeholders in the state. The event, titled “Safeguarding the Rights of Women and Children in the Solid Minerals Sector,” aimed to build synergy and collaborations towards protecting the rights of women and children in the mining sector in the state.
The policy dialogue series was funded by the Open Society Foundation (OSF) and in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and it brought together relevant stakeholders in the mining, human rights, legal, security, and environmental sectors to boost interdisciplinary collaboration and engagements and find common grounds for ensuring women and children affected by the mining sector are protected.
The guest speakers included Dr. Charles Adebayo Oyelami, the Head of the Department of Geology at the Federal University Oye, who presented a paper titled, “Addressing Gender-based Violence and Harassment in the Solid Mineral Sector: The Role of Stakeholders.”
Dr. Oyelami emphasized that stakeholders, including security agencies, should rise against violence targeted against mining workers and professionals. He further advised mining workers to speak out and report to relevant agencies anytime they fall victim to harassment or attempted harassment.
The President and Founder of Women in Mining Nigeria, Engr Janet Adeyemi, praised the event in Kogi as an opportunity for some of the best brains in the relevant sectors to deliberate on ideas and policy initiatives to push the conversations around the plight of women and children in and around the sector.
Adeyemi added that women and children bear the brunt of the negative impact of mining, whether they are actively involved in mining or just residents in mining communities, and they must seek ways to protect them.
She expressed her gratitude to OSF for the support and other bodies like the National Human Rights Commission, who have partnered with WIMIN to provide a shield and succour to the most vulnerable groups in the mining sector. Kogi is blessed with enormous mineral resources, including coal, gemstones, iron ore, and so on, and women are subjected to all manners of hard labour in mining sites and not accorded the requisite remuneration and recognition.
In many cases, they are physically, mentally, and sexually abused, and the engagement is to find ways to protect their rights and those of their children.