In collaboration with Ford Foundation, the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, the Women In Mining Nigeria (WIMIN) yesterday commemorated Year 2022 International Women’s Day, by convening a symposium for 50 female students drawn from five colleges in the Federal Capital Territory. It described participants as ‘among the upcoming women leaders of industry’ who should take a clue from the courage and resilience of successful women entrepreneurs and administrators of the country’s mining sector, a sector commonly believed to be dominated by men.
In her admonition, President of WIMIN, Engr Mrs Janet Adeyemi who encouraged young girls to set great goals and pursue them without fear, said “the likes of Emotan, Shinkafi and Nere” are able to stand tall as captains of industry and leaders in a sector dominated by men, because they first believed in themselves, set great goals and pursued the realization undisturbed by the drawbacks imposed on female-folk by a society that does not seem to recognize the ability women to make great contributions to society.
She described the participants as ‘among the upcoming women leaders of industry’ who should take a clue from the courage and resilience of successful women entrepreneurs and administrators of the country’s mining sector, a sector commonly believed to be dominated by men.
While saying that great stations of life are not cheaply bestowed, but “attained by sustained action,” Adeyemi, who is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, encouraged the girls to pursue their visions of greatness in a way that will not give room for the manifestations of the limitation imposed by society.
Aburime Emotan Shine founded the Emotan Group of companies to which Piramen Ventures belong, as private sector initiatives aimed at stopping capital flight through gemstones faceting and gold mining development.
Hajia Umar Fatima Shinkafi, a political figure of note who had served as Zamfara State Commissioner is the Executive Secretary and CEO of the Solid Minerals Development Fund (SMDF), an Agency of government responsible for administering funding support to public and private operators in mining sector. Shinkafi doubles as Executive Secretary of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI).
Nere Teriba is the consummate businesswoman who started humbly, and is building a gold trading empire – the Kian Smith Trade and Co. An industrialist, Nere excited the Nigerian mining sector in 2020 when she announced efforts to establish the first gold refinery in the country.
According to Adeyemi, the trio are some of the exemplars of limitless possibilities of progress that women can bestow on society, if given the chance, especially that the trio triumphed in a sector that is ruled and dominated by men.
Recalling the circumstances that gave rise to fist International Women’s Day, Adeyemi said: “From the year 1911, the 8th day of March has been earmarked to celebrate the International Women’s Day. That day, more than 1,000 men and women came together to recognize the resilience of women in a male dominated and female repressive society,” stating that in spite of the odds, these women were fearlessly approaching each societal inertias and embargoes and overcoming all, making strides in various professional, academic, commercial and political lanes and terrains which the society has kept out of their bound.
While stating that the rise of women is not about the fall of men, the WIMIN president said it is indisputable that women are needed in human society, adding that the argument is “where she is needed.”
She explained that for centuries, women were limited to domestic tasks and childbearing, stating that “this has been the greatest disservice to the progress of the entire human race.”
According to her, “the human race is behind in terms of technology, economics, politics, health, mining, space science and other innovations because women who possess the natural gifts and talent to drive innovations faster, were never allowed to ventilate the great ideas and breakthroughs within them, so these women lived and died with all they had to drive the globe forward within them.”
She however said women can now heave a sigh of relief, noting that “in recent times, the world has gradually realized its mistake and the injustice done, not just to women, but to the progress of the entire world.”
“For this reason, various actions have been taken to recognize the place of women in the corporate society and to ensure that the dark ages of discrimination and intolerance against the feminine gender are gone.
“It seems to some that these actions should have intensify years before now and as a globe, we are late in time. But I want to reiterate a Turkish adage which says, “no matter how far you have gone down the wrong road, it is not too late to turn back”.
She commended government institutions, civil society organizations and other stakeholders who expended huge resources and time to ensure a paradigm shift in unfavourable global culture towards women.
She said gender mainstreaming is about reflecting equality and equity in all policies, legal frameworks and its implementations, not necessarily in the authority domiciled in one or two persons. According to her, the International Women’s Day organized by Women In Mining In Nigeria, will address that paradox of hearty words vs incommensurate actions.
While saying that Women In Mining 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.
While expressing concern that section 56, subsection 1 of the Nigerian Labour Act discriminates against women working underground in the mining sector, Adeyemi, who is also a Fellow of the Nigeria Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS) reiterated the protestation of Women In Mining against the section of the Act, stating that “however intricate, however critical the mining sector is, there are women there and these women are cracking the hard nut with the highest standard of professionalism and they must not only favourably compete with men, but should be given the freedom to excel just as their male counterparts in the sector.
Currently, Women In Mining has over 1,500 membership across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria and has strengthened the capacity of over 1,000 women who are Artisanal and Small Scale Miners and are being used ingloriously and treated inhumanly by mine site owners.
Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah encouraged women to take the bull by the horn, noting that they must stand up for what they believe.
The high-point of the ceremony was the inauguration of the “Girls For Mining Society” (G4M) society. The G4M is a club within women in mining which will embrace young girls in Secondary and Tertiary Institutions and bring them into close interaction with women in mining for mentorship towards a career in mining for our young girls. It is expected that the G4M club will stimulate interest of its members in STEM and create a pipeline of knowledge and opportunities for the girls when they decide to join the mining sector.