A pressure group, Women in Mining in Nigeria (WIMIN), has set up its 27th Nigerian branch in Abuja.
In a ceremony at the weekend, the founder and national president of WIMIN, Dr Janet Adeyemi, inaugurated a caretaker committee headed by Dr Comfort Asokoro-Ogaji, to coordinate the activities of the group in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) pending when the group’s constitution is finalized. .
Speaking at the event. WIMIN national president, Hon Adeyemi, a geologist and former federal lawmaker, said she was led to found the organisation when she discovered that women were being exploited in mining sites in Jos and excluded from participating in the business of mining, adding that female mining professional were marginalized to working in administrative positions or serving tea, and she vowed to mainstream women in the sector, for them to make impact in mining.
According to her, men battled her in the beginning but by remaining consistent in advocacy, women’s participation had grown significantly, adding that there are now 27 WIMIN state chapters in Nigeria, 37 national chapters in Africa and 96 chapters across the world.
According to her, if women collaborated with one another, men cannot suppressed, even as she noted that mining was multi-sectoral and every person can find a niche to exploit and prosper in the business, either as excavators, refiners, consultants, traders, processors, counsellors, etc.
The coordinator of the FCT caretaker committee of WIMIN, Dr Comfort Asokoro-Ogaji, said she would use the position to advance the cause of women in mining in the federal capital territory.
In an interview shortly after the inauguration of the FCT Chapter, she said the FCT was blessed with abundant solid minerals such as gold, cassiterite, dolomite, lead/zinc, marble and tantalite.
She commended the FCT Administration for establishing the Department of Solid Minerals and Allied Matters, saying it will facilitate the development of Solid Mineral resources while creating wealth and jobs for residents.
Dr. Asokoro-Ogaji said: “We as women will contribute our part and work with the department to ensure that mining activities in the FCT are properly coordinated for improved Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), and most importantly to boost the socio-economic activities in the Territory targeting women and youths.
“The women in the communities should benefit from this natural endowment. There are actions that require funding, and there are impactful actions that requires the will and willingness of stakeholders. Not all actions are money backed. When we all play our roles by embracing our obligation as individuals, non-governmental, governments and private institutions, the mining communities will enjoy the socio economic benefits.
Responding to how she will set the tone for action, she highlighted a few actions to be taken to include: setting up administrative structures for the Abuja chapter of WIMIN; setting out standards for efficient and effective delivery of the mandate of WIMIN working with the President of WIMIM and the Abuja chapter team members to achieve this; making the necessary connections with relevant bodies to advance the cause of women in mining; and rolling out training programmes in the coming weeks for vulnerable women in mining.
“We will also reach out to the unreached women in every nook and cranny of the working under harsh conditions in the mining sector and create means of improving such conditions. Our impact map will reach out to girls in the sector in these communities.
“We will represent these women to access soft loans from both our government’s platforms and other willing platforms locally and internationally.
“Children involved in mining in the FCT will have to return to school and, as mothers, we should of course make mining a future ambition and begin to teach the basics of sustainable mining in our schools in the FCT,” she said.
Asokoro-Ogaji also spoke about reaching out to relevant stakeholders to ensure availability of equipment needed to maximize the realization of set mining goals for women.
“Getting equipment is capital intensive, but I am very optimistic that we will succeed especially with the cooperation and support of relevant stakeholders.
“The FCT Chapter of WIMIN will engage relevant stakeholders and make every effort that is the necessary for the advancement of women mining businesses,” she said.