The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki has stressed the need for women to be at the forefront of the emancipation of women, stressing women have the capacity and determination to excel in any field of endeavour.
He made this assertion during the opening ceremony of two-day national policy dialogue themed “The role of women in the development of the solid minerals sector in Nigeria” organised by Women in Mining Nigeria (WiMiN) in partnership with Ford Foundation and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) today (October 12, 2022) in Abuja.
The minister, who gave kudos to the strong women who are bold enough to venture into the industry that is naturally considered that of men, commended WiMiN for taking this initiative to emancipate women in the circle of the level where they are to a better level. He pointed out that as their numbers continue to grow, opportunities will abound.
Represented by the ministry’s director, artisanal and small-scale mining department, Mr. Patrick Ojeka Saraki noted that gender mainstreaming has been embraced internationally as a strategy towards realising gender equality. “Our goal, therefore,” he said, “is to ensure that both women and men have equal opportunities and benefits from the sector”.
He added that the government, since 2018, has been making sure there are policies and programmes are not devoid of gender responsiveness, noting, however, that government alone cannot do it all which is why the effort of WiMiN as a major stakeholder in the sector must be applauded.
Earlier in her welcome address, the president, WiMiN, Engr. Janet Adeyemi said the national policy dialogue commencing today (October 12, 2022) is the starting of a year-long programme in partnership with Ford Foundation and OSIWA which gave WiMiN projects involving gender-mainstreaming and gender justice.
She added that the themes are complementing, hence [the need for] a synergised validation exercise to look at the challenges and the opportunities such as injustices in the system.
“The project has strengthened our bonds and has become closely knitted by our various visits to each of the participating states. It is exciting to have you all in Abuja where we are going to share our various experiences of the challenges and opportunities, we have all experienced in our areas,” she stated.
According to her, the project has birthed the emergence of WiMiN state chapters; from Taraba in the northeast, Plateau in the north-central, Osun in the southwest, Ebonyi in the southeast and Edo in the south-south.
Adeyemi further said that WiMiN was mainstreamed with the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in 2017 as a recognised gender rights organisation in the mining sector and, currently, the ministry through its many diverse projects is repositioning women in mining as an elevated altitude in the mining sector.
In his goodwill message, a former commissioner of solid minerals, Ebonyi State, Engr. Francis Orji said WiMiN has done a lot of work and has interacted with many people that have leveraged the successes so far by the organisation.
“The truth is that when women are empowered economically the men enjoy it. That is why we are supporting them to do what we are doing,” he added.
Similarly, the former director, Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), Dr. Salawu Sirika urged women not to relent in their effort to gender mainstreaming advocacy.
“It is [something that] must be done. If you do not blow your horn nobody will do it for you. We are the most affected, so we must come on board to insist to be mainstreamed because we know how to do it well [and] we also have the population,” she added.
Sirika, who is also a WiMiN board member, urged women to be at the forefront of making mining activity in Nigeria sustainable, especially in the environmental and safety areas.