Why local content in extractive industries, women involvement

17Dec 2017
The Guardian Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
Why local content in extractive industries, women involvement

THE extractive industries (IEs) sector is one of the most important sectors in Tanzania. There is a wide variety of resources extracted in Tanzania such as tanzanite, diamonds, gold, uranium, nickel, oil and natural gas.

Gold miners in Tanzania

Their importance is on driving the social and economic development of the country. Also with high returns associated with the sector it is important for community involvement without alienating any member.

The Natural Gas Policy of 2013 and Mineral Act of 2010 state: "The government provides equal opportunities to all citizens of the country,’’ but most of such opportunities are dominated by men in our communities.

The participation and involvement of women is very scanty compared to men, as the sector remains a male-dominated sector compared to other industries in Tanzania and Africa in general.

Other findings also indicate that the involvement of women in the extractive industry is estimated at between 12 per cent and 27 per cent, and most of them are engaged in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM).

According to a World Bank report in 2015, there are 20 to 30 million people globally who are engaged in artisanal and small-scale mining and between 10 and 50 per cent of them are women.

In Tanzania, small-scale women miners lack the requisite capacity to be able to negotiate for better contractual deals in the sector. For most small-scale miners processing is done using manual intensive processes, with exposure to harmful chemicals which increase health risks. Also some women face sexual harassment and labour exploitation.

Education, knowledge and skills have been mentioned as some of the barriers that women face in extractive industries. In terms of education and knowledge, most of them lack a clear understanding of policies, laws, strategies and procedures that should be followed regarding sharing the benefits from natural resources.

This very often may be due to lack of women involvement in the value chain of the extractive industries -  from policy formulation to contracting management and local content realisation.

In addition, women in the extractive industry face patriarchal settings whereby the voice of women is not appreciated in the community and this may result n less and less participation of women in the sector.

Most of women in Tanzania may feel that extractive industry is for men only, but this is wrong because both men and women have the right to participate.

Other dynamics may include gender disparities which may result in poor involvement of women in the sector. According to the World Bank report, other influences are limited access to resources (including land and credit), socio-cultural norms (which prevent women from controlling their income) and cultural taboos (which hinder women from entering mine sites to work underground) and to enter a mine site during menstruation.

Generally, in Tanzania most women have limited access to mineral wealth in terms of ownership or equity involvement. Tanzania has a Women and Gender Development Policy (WGDP) (2000), and the National Strategy for Gender Development (NSGD) (2008).

Therefore, there is a need for development stakeholders and the government to raise the voice to ensure the gender differences are addressed to ensure that there is no violence against women in the mines.

This may go parallel with reforming our policies into ‘gender eyes’ and formulating laws for those who will violate the laws. By doing it may increase the involvement of women in the sector in many ways.

The Tanzania Extractive Industries (Transparency and Accountability) Act (2015) stipulates that there should be a national committee that ensures that Tanzania benefits from the extractive industry but the activities or projects in the sector need to be in gender eyes. Although the law is clear challenges still remain.

The lack of transparency and accountability with regard to investments may very much be addressed through the concept of Open Contracting between foreign and local investors, the state and local communities.

This may result in the dissemination of contract information, especially to the host local communities, and increase understanding of opportunities that are available.

Open contracting is important in extractive industries because transparency could help not only women but also men to face the challenges in the sector.

There is a need for communities to be involved in all stages of the projects, stating from the decision making process up to the implementation of the projects.

Stakeholders, especially those working in the extractive industries sector such as HakiRasilimali, Policy Forum and National Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), may direct their efforts to advocating the importance of extractive contracts disclosure so that the information is available to everyone to ensure governance and accountability in the sector.

In order to make sure that all Tanzanians benefit from their natural resources there is a need for more training, technical and entrepreneurship skills and other development initiatives for women and girls as target groups so as to make sure that women benefit economically more from extractive industries.

Women who are already working in the extractive industries should be trained and encouraged to create small micro-finance bodies (like SACCOS) which will help them to save and secure loans for investment in small scale mining activities or other local businesses.

This will increase their sources of income for their families and help women benefit despite their invisible barriers in the sector.

In order to make equal involvement of both women and men in the extractive industries a reality there is a need for knowledge sharing which will help women to participate in the sector.

Skills building training for women who are already involved in the sector is also important so as to become more skilled. Also, the promotion of academic advancement of the disciplines of natural sciences and other related studies is much needed to increase the number of women in Extractive Industries in Tanzania.

Full involvement of women in extractive industries is highly encouraged so as to reduce inequalities in the sector and increase socio-economic development for individuals and their families.

Women have the same right to development as men and their involvement may help to reduce the development gap and poverty in the communities.

President John Magufuli has shown a glimmer of hope by nominating the first woman to lead the Ministry of Minerals, Angela Kairuki.

Hopefully she will put much effort in addressing both policy and systemic issues within the industry in order to reduce the level of poverty in communities, especially among women and girls.

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