Says WIMIN will empower women in Abaji, Kuje, Gwagwalada, AMAC, Kwali and Bwari.
Equipment support, capacity building, protection of rights of women & children top agenda.
Dr. Comfort Asokoro-Ogaji is the Coordinator, FCT Chapter of Women In Mining In Nigeria (WIMIN), a Non Governmental Organization working to improve the lives of women in the mining industry.
In an interview she granted shortly after the inauguration of the Chapter in Abuja on Thursday, she prioritized financial and equipment support for women while noting that the Chapter will also encourage and empower women in FCT suburbs.
Dr. Asokoro-Ogaji, who acknowledged the crucial importance of mining equipment said: ‘I am aware that mining equipment is very important, I will work with relevant stakeholders to ensure availability of equipment needed to maximize the realization of set mining goals of our women,’ adding, ‘getting equipment is capital intensive, but I am very optimistic that we will succeed especially with the cooperation and support of relevant stakeholders.’
‘We will reach out to women everywhere in the FCT to take advantage of the economic opportunities in mining. We know that they need support. We will work with government and relevant stakeholders to support them,’ she said, adding that women in Abaji, Kuje, AMAC, Gwagwalada, Kwali and Bwari are captured in WIMIN Support Plan.
The chairperson commended the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) for establishing the Department of Solid Minerals and Allied Matters, and described the effort as a welcome development that will facilitate the delivery of jobs and wealth to Nigerians through the development of Solid Mineral resources in the FCT.
According to her, ‘The FCT in particular is superbly enriched by God with solid minerals in a unique way that cannot be overemphasized,’ adding that gold, cassiterite, dolomite, lead/zinc, marble and tantalite are some of the solid mineral endowment of the FCT that hold huge economic promises for women and all Nigerians.
Dr. Comfort Asokoro-Ogaji stated: ‘As women, we will contribute our part and work with the department to ensure that mining activities in the FCT are properly coordinated for improved Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), and most importantly, to boost the socio-economic activities in the territory targeting women and youths.’
Asokoro-Ogaji, who holds a Philosopher Degree in Strategic Management from the University of Leeds said: ‘The women in the communities should benefit from this natural endowment. There are actions that require funding, and there are impactful actions that require the will and willingness of stakeholders.’
While she explained that ‘not all actions are money-backed,’ she called on stakeholders to play their respective roles saying: ‘When we all play our roles by embracing our obligation as individuals, non-governmental, governments and private institutions, the mining communities will enjoy the socio economic benefits and the society will be better for it.’
Fielding questions from journalists on how she will solve other problems bedeviling the industry, the Coordinator, who holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Resources Management, highlighted ‘a few actions to be taken on the short run,’ saying: ‘We will set up administrative structures for the Abuja Chapter of WIMIN and we will also set out standards for efficient and effective delivery of the mandate of WIMIN, working with the President of WIMIN.’
She said the FCT Chapter will make necessary connections with relevant bodies to advance the cause of women in mining, adding that the chapter will immediately rollout training programs in the coming weeks for vulnerable women in mining.
‘One other key thing that we will do is to reach out to the unreached women in the nooks and crannies of the FCT. In those suburbs, there are women who are working under harsh mining conditions. We will reach out to them. We will create means of improving their conditions. This is very important to us as an organization,’ she said.
She said the FCT Chapter of WIMIN will represent these women to access soft loans from government and other willing platforms locally and internationally.
The Coordinator stated: ‘Our impact map will also reach out to girls in the sector in these FCT communities,’ adding that as mothers, WIMIN is expected to do much in this regard.
Discussing what the FCT Chapter of WIMIN will do to address the challenge of girls in mining, the Chairperson said: ‘Our stand is that children who are involved in mining in the FCT must return to school and we will work towards that.’
She said ‘as mothers, women should of course make mining a future ambition and begin to teach the basics of sustainable mining in our schools in the FCT,’ but that should not be mistaken for illegally involving children in mining.
She assured that the FCT Chapter of WIMIN will engage relevant stakeholders and make every effort that is the necessary for the advancement of women engaged in mining businesses.