From Priscilla Ediare, Ado Ekiti

Women in Mining in Nigeria (WIMIN) have called for a more vigorous fight to end gender inequality in the country.

The President and Founder of WIMIN, Hon Engr Janet Adeyemi, expressed that the menace which has particularly affected the rights of women and children should be tackled across all sectors to enthrone sanity in the polity.

Adeyemi who made the remarks on Tuesday in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital during the Women In Mining In Nigeria Research Validation and Policy Dialogue, called for a change in the narrative.

Adeyemi who was represented by the group’s Programme Coordinator, Dennis Deloraine, said though Nigeria is not there yet in terms of attaining gender parity, expressed optimism that Nigeria will be there someday.

“Gender equality is something we are yet to fully attain in Nigeria but from my experience and observation, we are working and close to getting there.

“But there is still much work to be done in the solid mineral and other sectors. Women’s rights are still being violated and their voices are taken away. However, this is a new dawn.

“The fight for gender equality in the mining sector is no more the women’s but a global issue. Nobody wants to reckon or identify with a society that has no respect or concern at the least, for its women and children.”

She explained that the reason the programme was put in place was to bring together the opinions of experts and judgements of stakeholders and actors to validate that, there is actually sexual and gender-based violence in the solid mineral sector in the state and see how they can be addressed.

“It is also to elicit commitment from the stakeholders such as Ministry of Justice and security agencies who will get certain information to work on to changing the narratives.”

Adeyemi said as part of the group’s cycle of programme implementation, they directed their spotlight on Gender Rights and Child Labour in the Mining Sector in three (3) states in Nigeria.

“I want to state at this point that our choice of Ekiti State as one of the implementation bases of this programme is well-considered and meritorious. Ekiti State has one of the most organised mining sectors in Nigeria and there is active gender participation in the solid mineral sector of the state.

“Just a few months ago, we sent our Research Team ahead of this programme, to conduct in-depth research on the extent of Women and Child Rights Violations in the Mining Sector in Ekiti State.

“While we received cases of gross violations of gender rights and child labour in the mining sector of some other states, we anticipated more negative reports in Ekiti State. On the contrary, we discovered that the system in Ekiti is more organised, well informed and highly inclusive. This is not only commendable but also worthy of emulation.”

“It is also to elicit commitment from the stakeholders such as Ministry of Justice and security agencies who will get certain information to work on to changing the narratives”.

Adeyemi said as part of the group’s cycle of programme implementation, they directed their spotlight on Gender Rights and Child Labour in the Mining Sector in three (3) states in Nigeria. I want to state at this point that our choice of Ekiti State as one of the implementation bases of this programme is well-considered and meritorious. Ekiti State has one of the most organised mining sectors in Nigeria and there is active gender participation in the solid mineral sector of the state.

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“Just a few months ago, we sent our Research Team ahead of this programme, to conduct in-depth research on the extent of Women and Child Rights Violations in the Mining Sector in Ekiti State.

“While we received cases of gross violations of gender rights and child labour in the mining sector of some other states, we anticipated more negative reports in Ekiti State. On the contrary, we discovered that the system in Ekiti is more organised, well informed and highly inclusive. This is not only commendable but also worthy of emulation. “

However, she noted that there is still much work to be done in the state’s mining sector urging the government and all state and non-state actors in the mining sector in Ekiti to place their radars on the menace of teen pregnancy in the mining host communities of the state, particularly in Ire-Ekiti.

“Additionally, the hot chase for lithium in Ijero-Ekiti has exposed many women and children in that community to health risks. Child labour in the state’s mining sector is done in a hushed tone but the effect on the children remains adverse.

“There are other specific issues we harvested in the course of our research in Ekiti State. We believe policymakers and stakeholders here have the capacity to clean up the state of child labour and gender abuse for the state to attain an enviable position on the nation’s index of gender responsiveness.”

The WIMIN president noted that part of the efforts being made to tackle the menace is to create more awareness and sensitisation on the menace and restructuring the complaints system.

“WIMIN has developed a dynamic APP that will aid the reporting of real-time sexual and gender-based incidences, a toll-free line was also developed for women in the sector at the grassroots to lay their complaints to the relevant organisations”.

According to Adeyemi, “the Research Validation and Policy Dialogue is part of WIMIN’s programme to Safeguard the Rights of Women and Children in the Mining Sector in Nigeria supported by Open Society Foundation (OSF) and in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

“We mapped out three (3) states for this crucial programme and Ekiti State on its merit, made it to the list. Women in Mining will continue to promote the inclusion of all, even in the emerging transformational developments such as energy transformation, digitisation, Artificial Intelligence, etc.”

On his part, Dr Kelechukwu Okezie, a lead researcher/ consultant to WIMIN, said their findings in Ekiti showed that there are still incidences of child labour in communities like Ijero -Ekiti and Ire- Ekiti and others too far to be effectively monitored by the government.

“Ekiti has adequate laws to address GBV and child labour generally and in the extractive sector but there is still a lot to be done. Most of these cases go unreported. No child should be at the mining sites when they are supposed to be in school.”

In her remarks, the Ekiti State Coordinator, National Environmental Standard and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Toroni Abosede identified the non-usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as one of the major challenges facing women in the mining business.

Toroni who noted that women are exposed to hazards during mining activities if safety boots, hand gloves and others are not worn during the operation, called for more enlightenment to address the challenges.

“For children, they are referred to as minors and they are not expected to take part in mining because their immune system is not yet well developed enough to withstand whatsoever health issue that may arise as a result of their involvement.”

“So, sensitisation and enlightenment are the key issues to address some of these challenges. You must know why you are to use the PPE and its advantage.”


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