In order to empower more women with knowledge of entrepreneurial opportunities inherent in gold and gemstones trading, Women In Mining Nigeria (WIMIN) will convene its maiden conference on gems and gemstones on 4th and 5th November 2022 in Lagos.
President of WIMIN, Engr. Mrs. Janet Adeyemi made the disclosure at the opening ceremony of a two-day national policy dialogue on ‘The role of Women in the development of the solid minerals sector in Nigeria,’ organised by WIMIN with support from Ford Foundation and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
She lamented that several women lost their lives in Kogi State because of the ‘pull and push factors which drew them into mining,’ assuring that WIMIN will continue to give entrepreneurial support to women in order to enhance their livelihood.
While saying that women are more involved in gold and gemstone trading, the president of the over 3000-member NGO said the programme was designed and implemented by Women In Mining In Nigeria, adding that five States were captured as the implementation base of the programme and that their WIMIN Chapters are all represented as follows; Taraba in the North-West, Plateau in the North-Central, Osun in the South-West, Ebonyi in the South-East, and Edo in the South-South.
She said at inception, WIMIN Research Team engaged research experts to work with them on the project. ‘At the next phase, the Programme Team embarked on policy dialogue with stakeholders, State actors and community leaders in each of the States mapped out for this programme.’
‘Following this phase, the Research Team, the Programme Team and the Women In Mining Training Institute collaborated to organize intensive training sessions and workshops, engaging experts from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development as Resource Persons to give the women hands-on training for their capacity building.’
‘When the training was complete, the State High Level Policy Dialogue teams were launched in each state mapped out for this programme,’ she said, adding that in each phase of this project, the management of WIMIN visited the key state actors in each state where this programme was implemented for engagement on the inclusiveness of gender in the policies and programmes of the state, and all the states pledged their commitments.
Adeyemi recalled that ‘in the advocacy visit to Edo State, the government of Edo State engaged the service of WIMIN to review the ECOWAS Charter on Gender Mainstreaming in the Geo-extractive sector, before the domestication of the Charter in their State.’
‘We volunteered to help and promptly obliged our Legal Team. The review is completed and the document has been sent to the government of Edo state.
She said the management of WIMIN also visited mine sites in each state of implementation for inspection and situation analyses which will form the basis for our advocacy at the national level. In one of such visits in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, two minors working at the mine site were taken off the site and sponsored to continue their education.
She said the policy dialogue is to consolidate the results of WIMIN efforts and to recount the successes of the organisation while reflecting on challenges.
She acknowledged the support of the Ministry of Mines and Steel and its agencies, and particularly commended Mr Patrick Ojeka, Prof B. D Ako, the Miners Association and the WIMIN team for their effort despite non-competitive wages.
Discussing the peculiarity of the policy dialogue, Adeyemi said the complementary nature of the studies necessitated a unified validation exercise, stating that the project has strengthened bonds by virtue of several visits embarked upon by the team to each of the five states.
‘It is exciting to have you all together in Abuja where we are about to share various experiences on the challenges and opportunities you have all experienced since the project started,’ she said.
While saying that women in Nigeria has joined the global gender movements to champion causes that accelerate inclusion of women in all sectors of human development and engagement, Adeyemi, a Fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers shared her mood saying: ‘When I stepped into this hall, I felt a huge sense of relief and deep satisfaction in my heart. The realization that Women in Mining is an organisation birthed and growing despite paucity of funds gladdens my heart and it is an indication of the resiliency in women to survive, even when confronted with very challenging situations.’
‘Today, WIMIN has over 3,000 members in Nigeria and the figures are growing speedily. We have established our states chapters across 5 geo-political zones in Nigeria.
‘WIMIN has been mainstreamed into the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development as a recognized gender-rights organization in the mining sector and currently, the Ministry through its Min-Diver Project is positioning WIMIN at an elevated altitude in the mining sector.’
Recalling some efforts made by WIMIN in collaboration with globally recognised bodies, Adeyemi said: ‘Earlier this year, WIMIN was at Accra Ghana as part of the ECOWAS expert team given the mandate to review the draft ECOWAS Charter on Gender Mainstreaming in the Geo-extractive sector.
She said mining operators, experts, academics and students are beneficiaries of the Women In Mining Training Institute (WIMTI), a monthly online class on mining operations, mining opportunities and legalities surrounding mining in Nigeria.
While saying that WIMIN has established the Girls For Mining programme (G4M) by setting up Miners Clubs in various schools and providing training and mentorship to young girls of school age with the goal of integrating them into the mining sector, Adeyemi said the Chair and Co – Chair are Prof Mrs Obaje, a former Minister and Prof Mrs Fisayo Jejelowo who works with NASA in Houston, USA, adding that the Girls for Mining initiative is a component of WIMIN programme designed to mainstream gender in the mining sector.
She described the initiative as a unique system of human capital investment for young girls that will create a pipeline for the steady inflow of skilled and motivated female miners into the mining sector.
‘We have also established the soft hats and WIM – undergraduates, all in an attempt to encourage more hills into the extractive sector in view of cultural, traditional and beliefs that held women down,’ she added.
‘We have operated WIMIN without collection of membership dues until 2022 in an attempt to reposition it for its transition into a business membership organization,’ adding that the management of the organisation further networked WIMIN into some regional, continental and global bodies where we hope to take advantages of best global practices in addressing the social and governance issues around women in the mining sector, knowing that women in mining members are broad based, ranging from operators to labourers.