#IWD2022: Gender Inequality Bane of Mining Industry – Adegbite

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…As WIMIN launches G4M to mentor young girls

Women artisanal miners.
Women artisanal miners.

As Nigeria joins the world to commemorate the 2022 International Women’s Day (IWD2022), the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, has identified gender inequality as one of the many challenges preventing the mining industry from reaching its full potential.

He made this known during a commemorative symposium to mark the day and the launch of the Girls for Mining (G4M) initiative by the Women in Mining, Nigeria (WIMIN) today (March 8) in Abuja.

Adegbite noted that it is unfair that while the female gender is a major and growing segment of the mining industry’s workforce and supply chain, the industry remains largely male-dominated.

According to him, this leaves the challenge unresolved, preventing families, communities, governments and companies from receiving the social and economic benefits associated with a diverse workforce.

Represented by the ministry’s director of mines and environmental compliance department, Dr. Vivian Okono, Adegbite said the event on gender issues in the mining industry helps structure a healthy mining industry where women, men, communities, the environment, governments and mining companies are treated fairly.

“This is in line with the gender goals of the African Mining Vision (AMV) adopted by African Union Heads of Government in 2009 and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) 5. Both seek to expand opportunities to strengthen the voice and influence of women and to ensure that inequalities are reduced,” he said.

Adegbite maintained that while Nigerians understand that gender inequality in the mining industry is a deep-seated issue, the time to make the industry more inclusive for both genders is now and not when the country has advanced.

“There is a lot we can learn from advanced mining countries that have recently committed to achieving gender balance, in line with this year’s campaign theme for IWD2022. Let us choose to challenge the biases and stereotypes and strive to achieve gender balance in the Nigerian mining industry,” he added.

The minister congratulated the G4M launch to boost gender mainstreaming in the mining sector, describing it as “the right way to go to catch them young”, beginning from directing their choices of course of study in the tertiary institution to maturing into decision-makers in the industry.

In his remarks, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, lauded WIMIN for doing something unique by trying to create sustainability in the process of mining by getting girls, youths and women to develop an interest in mining.

“G4M is the way to go so the young girls are built from the scratch and have an inclination towards the mining sector which is very key for the future of this country and theirs,” he said.

Earlier in her welcome remarks, the WIMIN president, Engr. Janet Adeyemi said WIMIN is an easy reference of the strength and capacity of women in sectors that are very complex and highly intricate that men in those sectors do not imagine that any woman stands a chance in such difficult terrains.

“The Nigerian Labour Act section 56, subsection 1 discriminates against women working underground in the mining sector. But Women in Mining has substantiated a clear point: that however complex, intricate or critical the mining sector is, there are women there and these women are cracking the hard nut with the highest standard of professionalism. These women are not just competing favourably with men, but they have excelled and astounded their male counterparts in the sector,” she said.

According to Adeyemi, WIMIN currently has over 1,500 members across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, noting that it has strengthened the capacity of over 1,000 women who are artisanal and small-scale miners.

She added that the G4M club within women in mining will embrace young girls in secondary schools and tertiary institutions and bring them into close interaction with women in mining for mentorship towards a career in mining.

“The G4M club will stimulate our girls’ interest in STEM and create a pipeline of knowledge and opportunities for the girls when they decide to join the mining sector. It is our goal that in the long run, the G4M will ease more females into the mining sector and significantly upscale the 6.8 per cent of female miners among the myriads of men in the mining sector (PremiumTimes news and NEITI statistics) to achieve gender balance,” she added.

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