The just concluded Digital DRC Mining week that ran from 17-19 June saw a record number of ladies tuned in for the DRC-focused Women in Mining live webinar session. Women in Mining-DRC (WIM_DRC) was first established in Lubumbashi at last year’s conference and exhibition and aims to end all forms of discrimination against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) mining sector and to develop the DRC by integrating the gender approach to ensure good governance, fairness and transparency.
The 40 participants of the WIM_DRC webinar included members of parliament, state and civil service workers, representatives of the industrial and artisanal mining sectors and civil society as well technical and financial partners.
Speaking during the webinar, the executive director of HEAR Congo; a grassroots organization focused on vulnerable women and children- Kaleba Huguette Ngoie-Kasongo said that the challenges women face in the mining sector are very similar if not the same worldwide. It always revolves around issues of inequality and equity.
She further added that as such, it is important that the women who are involved in the mining sector work in synergy in an inclusive manner. She emphasized the importance of women being strategic in ensuring their views are heard through representation of a structured and recognized platform like WIM_DRC.
Ngoie-Kasongo added that women can make men important allies to assist them in this process. The main goal, she explained, is for women in the mining sector to be well equipped, well connected and to position themselves as leaders to embrace their roles and responsibilities. Beyond being heard, they need to be respected.
Clear vision of gender parity
During the discussion on taking women taken into account when it comes to local content in the extractive industry, the Deputy Head of Cabinet Gety Mpanu Mpanu stated, “It is important that women get involved significantly in order to contribute to the development of the country, particularly for a sector that has been dominated by men for decades, in public and private companies, in decision-making as well as in crafts.
She also insisted that the aforementioned expansion cannot be achieved without political will and without a clear vision of gender parity in the mining sector. According to Mpanu, to assume important positions of responsibility, it is important to invest in training in order to guarantee women who are experts in their fields.
The Deputy Head of Cabinet also highlighted the shortcoming in the rate of women in mining at 17%, compared to the 50% required by law. She however, added that the President supports the cause and is working to strengthen the vision. This is while urging decision makers in the mining sector to get involved to increase efficiency of the process.
Asanko Gold’s “Botae Pa Initiative” in Ghana
Similarly, in Ghana, the international mining company Asanko Gold Inc. has launched the Asanko Women in Mining “Botae Pa Initiative” at the Asanko Gold Mine, AGM. The AGM is a 50:50 joint venture with Gold Fields Ltd which is managed and operated by Asanko.
Translated from the Ghanaian Akan language to mean “Good Purpose”, the Botae Pa Initiative is dedicated to the empowerment of women at the Asanko Gold Mine and its catchment communities. This Initiative has been the brainchild of the Asanko Women in Mining Chapter and is being funded 50:50 by the mine and its contractors.
The Botae Pa Initiative’s projects will be focused on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls by promoting the mining sector to women as an exciting career choice, focusing on the needs of women and girls in the local communities in the areas of education, health, access to finance and business, and supporting the professional development of Asanko’s women through mentoring and networking programs.
Commenting on the launch, Peter Breese, President & CEO, said, “It’s important that we continue to develop and promote the women within our business, as well as the girls in our local communities, as they are the next generation of leaders and decision makers and the Botae Pa Initiative provides a dedicated platform to fulfil this.
Alongside the Botae Pa Initiative, Asanko also has a formal Women in Mining Charter outlining its commitment to gender diversity and empowerment, as well as a number of female-friendly policies designed to increase the number of women at the Asanko Gold Mine, which currently stands at approximately 10% for 2018 and is above the national average of 7% in the mining industry in Ghana.