Equality in the extractives industry: ALSF, International Women in Mining and Adam Smith Intl launch high-level event at Mining Indaba 2018

Published: 04/02/2018

African Development Bank Group

Cape Town, South Africa, 4 February 2018 — Despite enjoying sustained commercial growth in recent years, the global mining industry will soon face a looming skills gap. Alongside this trend, industry experts have observed that women are disproportionately underrepresented in the extractives sector, even when compared to other traditionally ‘male-dominated’ industries like oil and gas.

In this context, the empowerment of women is not only a moral imperative, it has also become an economic necessity. With the aim of refocusing the industry’s attention on gender diversity, the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), International Women in Mining (IWiM) and Adam Smith International are organizing a high-level event on the margins of the African Mining Indaba 2018.

Scheduled to take place on 6 February, the event will introduce gender-proactive legislative to its audience and will highlight the manners in which African governments and international mining companies are pushing for increased female participation in the extractives sector. Under the direction of Wendy Treasure, Director of Research and Academia for IWiM, the event will unfold across three distinct phases: A presentation, a panel discussion, and a breakout session of workshop groups.

Underscoring the shared ALSF-IWiM vision of gender-conscious mining laws, Ms. Treasure will present a collection of policies and legislative clauses which seek to infuse considerations of gender diversity in all mining-related endeavors. Using these legislative proposals as a prompt, Ms. Treasure will launch a 40-minute panel discussion which will explore the impact—both positive and negative—of legal frameworks which target gender gaps in the industry. Finally, in what promises to be a dynamic and informative session, the event’s participants and panelists will break-out into small groups in order to draft and compare their own legislation.

IWiM’s Director of Research, Wendy Treasure said: “In some countries, women are still prohibited from working underground or on mine sites. Although the number of women in mining has been increased due to equal opportunity laws and measures such as the South African Mining Charter, legal requirements to incorporate women in mining do not guarantee equal treatment of women.

“When released in 2009, the African Mining Vision had a 5-year plan to “Initiate empowerment of women through integrating gender equity in mining policies, laws, regulations, standards and codes.” IWiM thinks women have waited long enough to see progress on this front and have drafted nine policy points and five legislative points to start the empowerment process.

“Getting gender proactive policy and legislation in place is a challenge. It needs strong institutional will and capability to implement the provisions to support change. We recognise that leadership is required from government, industry, finance and civil society. International Women in Mining will support your efforts,” said Treasure.

The imperative of women’s economic empowerment is now well-recognized and features prominently in the global development agenda. Indeed, both the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) and the fifth Sustainable Development Goal encourage the implementation of rigorous legal frameworks in order to combat deeply-rooted gender-based discrimination. Moreover, as gender inequality continues to cost sub-Saharan African countries more than USD 95 billion annually, the private sector has been increasingly impelled to find and deploy solutions to this continuing challenge.

While progress in the mining sector has been slow-coming and hard-won, this forthcoming panel discussion aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of well-crafted mining regulations and codes in shrinking the gender disparities which continue to affect African economies, communities, and individuals.

“Mining can affect women at every level: from direct employment, to service provision, to women living and working in the host communities surrounding the mine,” remarks Ms. Julia Baxter, Head of the Mining, oil and Gas Governance practice at Adam Smith International. “But tackling equalities in the extractives industry is not an insurmountable task. “Through changes in policy and practice, we can push for transformative gender outcomes. Although gender issues have not traditionally been prioritized there is growing momentum across the spectrum of stakeholders in the industry to not only recognise the challenge, but to proactively respond. Through our work at ASI we see this appetite for change increasing daily,” continued Ms. Baxter.

The event’s panel discussion will benefit from the presence of experts in the extractives field, including Ms. Claire McMaster, Past Chairperson of Women in Mining South Africa (WIMSA); Martin Ayisi, a drafter of the Kenyan Mining Act; Julia Baxter, Head of the Mining, Oil and Gas Governance practice at Adam Smith International; and Wendy Treasure.


International Women in Mining (IWiM)

International Women in Mining (IWIM) is the leading global platform for all women in mining. Connecting more than 45 WIM groups around the world, International Women in Mining launches projects which improve worldwide diversity and foster women’s professional development in the mining industry.

About the African Development Bank Group

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 44 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

Adam Smith International
Adam Smith International is an award-winning global company that delivers impact, value and lasting change through economic growth and government reform. Specializing in the design, management and delivery of complex projects, Adam Smith International has wide-ranging experience across economic growth and government reform initiatives.

Contact: Omar Yusuf, Communications Officer, African Legal Support Facility, o.yusuf@afdb.org,  Camila Reed, Head of Social Media IWiM, media@internationalwim.org