The government is embarking on some direct policy initiatives to enhance the participation of women in the mining industry in Ghana, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, has said.
The initiatives include ensuring sustainable extraction of mineral resources by intensifying and monitoring mining activities to ensure environmental and safety compliance to guarantee a safe mining environment that will reduce the perception that mining is a dangerous activity which pushes women away from the industry.
At a Women in Mining (WIM) in Ghana CSR Workshop in Accra, Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said the government was implementing those key strategies within the broader policy framework and envisaged that they would positively impact the participation of women in the mining industry.
She said the government was also pushing to integrate mining into the rest of the economy through value addition to minerals.
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Mrs Oteng-Gyasi noted that the country’s abundant mineral resources presented a potential wealth creation opportunity for socio-economic development, but it was characterised by low participation of women due to challenges such as the lack of education, training and skills and access to finance.
Women also did not have role models in the industry, faced socio-cultural barriers (superstition that women are not allowed to go underground) and exclusion from informal networks, she stated.
However, she added that the Mining Regulatory Framework was gender neutral and that the strategies and policy direction of the government were to ensure fully inclusive and long-term benefits for mining for both men and women.
“Until we empower women to actively participate in the entire mining value chain, optimising sustainability to avoid exploitation of our mineral resources will be difficult and we will not achieve the gains that we derive from the sector,” Mrs Oteng-Gyasi noted.
The WIM, under the auspices of he Canadian High Commission to Ghana, organised the workshop on the theme: ‘Ghana’s Mining Regulatory Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities for Enhancing Women’s Participation.’
It was to assess and discuss the participation of Ghanaian woman in the mining industry and their contribution to improving livelihoods and uplifting communities around the country.
A former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Rev. Joyce Aryee, noted that although the mining industry had the potential to be the key driver of economic growth, job creation and sustainable development in many developing countries, it posed unique risks and challenges, particularly for women.
To overcome the resource curse, she said, many governments had committed to some global and regional initiatives to find solutions, including the African Mining Vision, 2009.
She said locally, the advocacy must continue and actions must be taken on policy initiations.
Rev. Dr Aryee also recommended that girls in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programme must be pursued vigorously, appealing to the mining companies to be a strong partner in that.
The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ms Heather Cameron, said research indicated that economic growth was consistently higher and countries were more prosperous when women got active in the economy.