WACAM holds public forum on responsible mining

Participants at a day’s public forum on responsible mining in Ghana on Tuesday called for the amendment of the country’s mining laws to include the protection of the rights of women in mining communities.

This was after it came to light that women in communities affected by mining only got three per cent of compensation paid by mining companies to land owners and farmers whose property are taken over for mining activities.

It further came to light that women bore a brunt of the burden when their communities are taken over by the mining activities, as most of them are either displaced or the young women exposed to sexual exploitation by men and also suffered all forms of gender based violence.

It is against this backdrop that the participants called for a reform into the country’s mining laws to create opportunities for women in the areas of employment.

The forum organised in Accra by WACAM, a community based human rights and environmental mining NGO, was on the theme, “Responsible mining – the role of women” was aimed at learning and sharing with stakeholders in the mining sector on approaches and strategies in advocating for the protection of women’s rights in natural resources exploitation.

The forum brought together gender and environmental activists, legal practitioners, representatives from the Minerals and Forestry Commissions, academia, the media, women in law and civil society organisations and women affected by mining activities.

It was also aimed at rallying support from participants to make the relevant recommendations to the appropriate state institutions for considerations.

The Associate Executive Director of WACAM, Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, said it was unfortunate that women were being relegated to the background when it came to compensation payment as the men would employ every means to out-weigh the women.

The men often times, leave the women to their fate to cater for the health needs of the children and the general upkeep of the family, she said.

Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said women were the most affected “when mining companies take over and destroy their forest which serves as source of livelihood for them.”

Dr Emmanuel Tenkorang, Dean of the School of Development Studies of the University of Cape Coast, in his presentation, said there were 23 large scale mining companies in the country with 300 registered small-scale mining where most of them were involved in surface mining.

According to him, 44 per cent of women were engaged in the mining sector, stressing that it was imperative they exerted their rights.

 Mr Augustine Niber, Executive Director of the Centre for Public Interest Law, took participants through the minerals mining sector policy as well as the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).

BY NORMAN COOPER

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