A study conducted by the Centre for Extractives and Development, Africa (CEDA) has revealed that inadequate legislation in Ghana's mining sector is a significant obstacle to promoting active female participation. The qualitative study highlighted that existing laws were generic and did not compel mining companies to implement gender-based programs to enhance female involvement in the industry.
Mr. Samuel Osei Bekoe, the Lead Researcher at CEDA, shared these findings during a validation workshop in Accra. He emphasized the need for enhanced advocacy to create specific roles for women, encouraging their participation in jobs and leadership positions within the mining sector. The study indicated a low female participation rate, with only about 9% of the workforce in Ghana's minerals mining industry being female.
Mr. Bekoe called for strengthened collaboration among stakeholders, including the government, industries, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), to address challenges faced by women in the sector. The study identified issues such as maternity protection, job security, unfavourable working environments, lack of mentorship, limited leadership opportunities, and unfair remuneration.
The Lead Researcher recommended immediate collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection to develop effective guidelines pushing mining industries to adopt female-focused programs for increased access and participation.
Presenting key findings, Mr Bekoe mentioned the historical exclusion of women in the mining sector, particularly in underground mining, citing the ‘Underground Mining Ordinance of 1926.' He noted that global transformation was slowly shifting towards gender-neutral working environments, with some companies demonstrating support and designing suitable working gear for women miners.
To address the gender gap, Mr Bekoe suggested that Ghana consider implementing straight quota legislation similar to those in South Africa and Norway, which have proven successful in achieving higher participation ratios of women in the mining industry. These countries also provide government incentives for companies adopting gender-based programs.
Dr. Georgette Barnes Sakyi-Addo, the President of Women in Mining (WIM) Ghana, emphasized the need to involve more young females in the extractive industries. She encouraged women to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses, and for those unable to do so, there are opportunities in various sections, including administration, accounts, logistics, and supply chain.
Dr. Sakyi-Addo highlighted the low retention rate of female workers in the mining sector as a concern for WIM Ghana and called for increased dialogue, knowledge-sharing, support, and encouragement to retain women in the industry and empower them economically.