With the constant new findings of resources in Africa, such as oil, gas and minerals, mining has become an economic driver for the continent. The extractive sector has the potential to create employment opportunities and therefore reduce poverty and enhance social development. However, certain barriers prevent women in particular from enjoying the benefits mining brings with it while they are in fact those who carry the burdens and risks of it.
The United Nations Women in collaboration with other partners hosts every year a regional forum, in the effort to promote gender equality.From the 13th – 15th October 2015, UN Women’s regional office for Eastern and Southern Africa in collaboration with the Australian High Commission and other partners, organized a regional Sharefair on gender equality in the extractive industries : “Building on Good Practices”. The gender equality in the extractive industries Sharefair purposed to build on the success of the 2014 Rural Agricultural Technologies Sharefair which brought together over 350 participants and 90 exhibitors from across the region. The 2015 Sharefair event focused on women in the extractive industries and provided an opportunity for knowledge exchange and dialogue on all levels of operation – from community level, to Civil Society Organizations ( CSOs) involvement to government policies.
Being part of the sharefair executive board, GIZ Health Sector Programme was actively involved in the planning of the event. In preparation for this activity, GIZ Health Sector Programmes seek to collaborate with Base Titanium, a mining company in Kenya. The study will investigate mining-induced resettlement repercussions and risks. This study will also provide good practices that other players in extractive industries can learn from and emulate.
The first day of the sharefair was dedicated to the women miners. After the opening remarks the participants were given the chance to attend interactive as well as practical sessions which focused on how to value gemstone, therefore giving the women the skills to maximizing their profits. The interactive sessions were used to provide the women miners, the private sector as well as CSOs with a platform to interact, network and explore business opportunities. I found this session to be extremely valuable and interesting because the community members had a platform to voice their concerns and outlined challenges faced when mining companies come to their homes. One of the women said “Why would i ever consent to giving away my land?, why should i say take my land, my livelihood, my inheritance, my pride?’’ The second and third day focused on dialogues between regional and national governments, the private sector and presentations on good practices by other participants. The presentations and panel debates by the participants encouraged the implementation of effective integration frameworks for gender equality within the mining sector.
GIZ Health Sector also presented a documentation done by GIZ Sierra Leone on ‘Encyclopaedia of Gender and Mining: Key Initiatives, Best Practices and Actors’. This encyclopaedia serves as an easy-reference to offer an overview of key initiatives, publications, active stakeholders and best practices in the area of gender and mining globally. This presentation encouraged others to inform us on past, current and future initiatives to update our report and provide others with ideas and resources. GIZ was allocated an exhibition stand where the participants could collect a copy of the encyclopaedia, many participants knew of initiatives that would also serve as a good example to others and therefore should be included in the encyclopaedia. All the feedback was taken and will be used to update the encyclopaedia.