Patience Gbeze, GNA
Accra, Dec. 4, GNA - Stakeholders in the mining industry have called for gender inclusion on the various boards in the sector.
They said though the laws and regulations provided for the inclusion of women on these boards, that is not what pertains on the ground.
Mr Augustine Niber, Executive Director of Centre for Public Interest Law, a rights-focused non-governmental not for profit organization, made the call at a day's forum on responsible mining organised by the Wassa Community Against Mining (WACAM) in collaboration with OXFAM, Care Ghana and OSIWA in Accra.
The event was held under the theme: "Promoting Responsible Mining: The Role of Women", and participants included representatives from mining communities, Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as the media.
The forum was to share and learn from stakeholders on approaches and stakeholders in advocating for the protection of women's rights in natural resource exploitation.
Mr Niber said though Ghana has enacted laws and regulations for the mining sector, “in terms of policy direction, there is no specific law against mining in the river or water source.
"The law only states that mining activity should be done about 100 meters away from water bodies", he said.
He said another area that needs attention is public access to information on mining and this was a challenge as a court order is needed.
Dr Emmanuel Tenkorang, Dean of School of Development Studies, University of Cape Coast, said 90 per cent of mineral exports in Ghana is gold and women formed 44 per cent of the mining sector.
He said that percentage was not a mean number, hence the need to pay more attention on women in the sector, especially those are affected by mining activities.
He said a study they conducted for WACAM indicates that women receive lower compensation from lost lands, while about 80 per cent of the compensation goes to the men even for joint ownership.
He said women only get compensation if they inherited the land.
The study also revealed that the indigenes lost access to forests, leading to loss of livelihood, especially on the part of women as some of these lands are blocked.
Dr Tenkorang said women in the rural areas suffer because of loss of access to forest, adding “hitherto they go to the forest to get the family protein needs but that is not the case since they can no longer go into the forest”.
Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of WACAM, said the presence of diverse interest groups at the forum is an indication of the importance that stakeholders attach to mining issues and that justifies the need for such for an effort.
She said with a well-known and attractive mineral resource base, significant mining investments have been attracted into the country over the past two decades, however, Ghana has not been able to optimize significant benefits from its mineral resources.
“WACAM’s work in 120 earmarked and affected mining communities has brought us in contact with the stark realities of the mining impact on women in respect of destruction of communities’ access to water, loss of livelihoods, human rights abuses, forced eviction, compensation and resettlement problems, among others,” she said.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said compensation regime has not taken into account women loss of livelihoods with the loss of standing forest adding that, “women have suffered from many injustices which the legal, regulatory and policy frameworks on mining have not recognized.
She said mining has disregarded the specific livelihood options of women that is dependent on the existence of a standing forest, and “when mining destroys the environment, it undermines a woman’s ability to provide food and clean water for her family”.
She said the Mineral and Mining Act, Act 703, 2006 and all regulations enacted for implementation are gender blind and did not take the issue of women in particular into consideration.
“Indeed there is no mention of the word “gender” or “woman” anywhere in Act 703. It is WACAM’s view that mining issues affecting women need to be discussed by stakeholders in the spirit of openness and transparency.”
She expressed WACAM’s gratitude to Care Ghana, Oxfam Ghana and OSIWA for providing logistical support for their efforts.GNA