Women miners in Ebonyi State under the umbrella of Women in Mining Nigeria (WIMIN), have called on their male counterparts in the mining sector not to consider their participation in mining as a competition.
According to the women, they have been experiencing different forms of violence and discrimination from the men in the mining sector and charged the men to see them as mothers, sisters, wives, cousins or relations and not competitors as they always see them.
The women disclosed this while x-raying their challenges during their two days Project Retreat/Review Meeting held at San Diego Hotel Abakaliki.
They however called for their safety and equality in their operations within the State.
In her speech, Ambassador Ijeoma Bristol who represented the National President of the association, Janet Adeyemi, said women in the mining sector have continued to face challenges of land ownership, huge collateral, discrimination, Gender-Based Violence and issues in the sector.
“Women in Mining is focused on gender mainstreaming, women and children are predominately engaged in working sculptures, machine loaders, backers and service providers. Their major handicap stems from finance, for instance, the inability to lease or purchase equipment.
She then hoped that Ebonyi State investment law which has adopted a World Bank model for consensual support to women will actually resolve up to 40 per cent of employment opportunities for women including funding because without funding, nothing will happen.
“This will assist women in mining support for the empowerment of Ebonyi female participation in the sector.
“Some of the constraints being faced by women in this sector need to be addressed positively. For instance, land ownership, huge collateral, discrimination, and Gender-Based Violence. We must remember that women are involved in economic activity in this and other sectors are our mothers, our sisters, our wives, our cousins or our relations. They are part of the family, they are not outside of us and their education contributes to the overall welfare of the family and the community. They are not competing with the men, their participation should not be considered as competing.
“Research indicates that in Ebonyi State, there are about three women with foreign licenses and possibly four with exploration licenses in the lead and zinc sectors. This due may be due to a number of factors such as prejudice against women who seek to improve their finances. This results in their unwillingness to venture into the solid mineral sector. The mineral section is one of the future growing sectors that women should be actively involved in”, she stated.
Legal Adviser of the association, Bar. Nkem Chukwu lamented under-aged children in the industry which she said was not good for their health and education.
She called for advocacy visits by association to line ministries which she said are very key in helping to curb the under-aged miners.
Corroborating, Mrs Lorieth Nwafor a member of the Civil Society Organization(CSO) Working with the Initiative for Social Change in Africa, assured the women that the CSO will ensure that citizens inputs are taken into consideration by the government.
She further added that the CSO will also ensure that the government leave up to their responsibility following the hazard associated with mining.