Inadequate legislation in Ghana’s mining sector preventing active female participation – Study

A study undertaken by the Centre for Extractives and Development, Africa (CEDA) has shown that inadequate legislation in Ghana’s mining sector has been a key hindrance to the promotion of active female participation.

The qualitative study showed that existing legislations were generalised and did not force mining companies to undertake gender-based programmes to promote female participation in the sector.

Mr Samuel Osei Bekoe, the Lead Researcher from the Centre for Extractives and Development, Africa (CEDA), at a validation workshop in Accra, called for enhanced advocacy for the creation of specific female roles, to encourage them to take up jobs and occupy leadership positions within mining industries.

The findings of the case study on “Enhancing women’s participation in the extractive sector governance,” undertaken by CEDA with support from the Ford Foundation, revealed a very low female participation of about nine per cent workforce in the country’s minerals mining industry.

Mr Bekoe called for strengthened stakeholder collaboration with government, industries and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to discuss challenges confronting females in their working environments within the sector, and to consider how existing policies and legislations could positively address their concerns.

Some complaints raised by the women included issues of maternity protection, job security, unfavourable working environment, lack of mentorship and fair leadership opportunities and unfair remuneration.

Mr Bekoe suggested that immediate work commenced with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, to develop an effective guideline to push mining industries into adopting female-based programmes to increase access and greater participation of women in the extractive industry in Ghana.   

Presenting some key findings of the study, which was institutional based, he said the generally low-level female participation at global and local levels of the extractive sector, could be attributed to years of historical exclusion of women, particularly in underground mining, citing the ‘Underground Mining Ordinance of 1926’.

“This allowed for less female participation in the mining sector due to socio-cultural and traditional reasons,” but with current global transformation of the mining sector from a heavy-laden male dominance, some companies were beginning to demonstrate gender-neutral working environment and support, including designing suitable working gears for women miners.

Others had also developed levels of care for females, especially nursing mothers, and opportunities for those who would want to climb up to the governance ladder, while others were yet to adopt innovative systems, he said.

He stated that in countries like South Africa and Norway who had achieved higher participatory ratio of women in Mining, they had designed straight quota legislations that ensured female inclusiveness in these sectors.

There were also government incentives for companies to adoption gender-based programmes, and suggested these as the basis for Ghana to consider similar laws in accordance with global best practices, to shape its own extractive sector.

Dr Georgette Barnes Sakyi-Addo, the President of Women in Mining (WIM) Ghana (WIM, called for the involvement of more young females in the extractive industries, urging them to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses.

“Those who are unable to pursue STEM have opportunities to occupy positions in the various sections including administration, accounts, logistics, and supply chain,” she said.

She also encouraged female professionals on the field to seek regular upgrade of their skills and knowledge on Artificial Intelligence, improved mining methods, look for safe spaces and protect each other, because it was an economic empowerment issue to help them develop their families and nation.

Dr Sakyi-Addo said very low retention rate of the already limited number of female workers in the mining sector, was a huge concern for WIM Ghana, which was affecting its efforts at pushing professionals into governance positions within companies.

She said to prevail, there must be increased dialogue to shape, share knowledge, support and encourage each other to remain in the industry.

Source: GNA

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