Women in Mining Nigeria (WIMIN) has advocated the need to address limiting factors to women’s participation in mining in Nigeria for maximum productivity.
Founder and National President, WIMIN, Janet Adeyemi ,made the call at a 2-day High Level National Policy Dialogue themed: ”Mainstreaming Gender in the Solid Mineral Sector in Nigeria’’ in Abuja”.
The project, being supported by Ford Foundation and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), is being implemented in Ebonyi, Edo, Osun, Plateau and Taraba states to advocate the integration of gender equality perspectives in mining.
Adeyemi said that the measure became necessary because of some challenges women faced in mining, adding that although there may be loans, they were not easily accessible by women.
She said: “Government is trying but we still have issues bothering women in mining.
“We still do not have access to funding, we still do not have access to titles, we may not be denied directly, but there are indirect denials.
“This is because, we do not have money or property of our own, so we cannot access loans and other things.
“We can be given allocations where you say, okay, you women go and try your hands here let’s see what you can do .
“You women have access to funds, this is the way some countries are doing it and it is working, so, these are the things we are asking for.’’
Adeyemi said that women hardly have big mining companies, only a few had, yet they bear the brunt of mining activities, whether they are directly involved or indirectly.
According to Adeyemi,WIMIN has done extensive research in five states, looking at what was mitigating against women being active participants in the mining sector.
“We looked at what the injustices meted out on women in the mining sector are and our consultant went round documenting these facts which our staff have gone round to engage governments on and to ask them what they can do .
“The essence of today’s meeting is to look at those issues and to identify what the common factors are.
“So, we will be able to define which one is cultural, we’ll be able to look at some from the basis of states and look at some from the basis of lack of funds, these are the outcomes we will now run with,” she said.
Adeyemi said WIMIN identified a capacity gap among women in mining and moved to tackle it from the roots by establishing the Girls for Mining (G for M), to build their knowledge in the field once a month.
She said,” the essence was also to promote Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as related to mining at secondary school level.
”The group also moved to attract ladies in the universities in various professional fields to change the stereotype and the belief that mining is for men or for the powerful.”
Adeyemi said the outcome of the high level dialogue would be presented to government officials for further action.
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, said the government had initiated many policies to mainstream gender in mining.
Saraki, represented by Mr Patrick Ojeka , Director, Artisanal and Small Scale Mining, encouraged women to ”take the bull by the horns in the sector.
“The concept that has been in existence has not restricted any woman from entering into the mining sector, and the government has worked assiduously to provide an enabling environment for all entrants into the industry.
“Therefore, there is no criticism of any sex; do not forget the fact that when they say gender , by its interpretation, it is for men and women, but here in our climes, we are looking at it as a women affair, no.
“Gender covers all and the government has done a lot to provide an enabling environment.
“Recently, the Federal Executive Council approved the value addition of the downstream sector of the mining industry opening the door for cottage industries to be established,” Sarakki said.
Saraki, therefore, urged that with these moves by the government, there should be no discrimination and criticism in the mining sector because everybody has equal opportunities to enter into the business.
“So, women, take advantage of the opportunities the government has provided, be up and doing and stop chickening yourself out,’’she appealed.