For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

Group Develops WIMRIGHTS Software to Report Abuse in Mining Sector

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

The President/Founder, Women in Mining, Nigeria, Engr. Janet Adeyemi FNSE, FNMGS, FNIM has announced the development of WIMRIGHTS, a software to help report abuse of women and children in the sector in real-time.

Eng Adeyemi stated this in her welcome remarks at the National Summit of WIMIN which was held in Abuja yesterday.

According to Eng Adeyemi “To shed light on the depth of the issues affecting women and children in the solid minerals sector, we have developed software for reporting cases of abuse which will serve as a platform for reporting cases of abuse in the sector in real-time, including the option for live streaming.

“You can find the WIMRIGHTS App on both the Play Store and Apple Store and in the interest of female miners in the grassroots, we have established a dedicated hotline for reporting abuses in mining host communities. The hotline is toll-free, and complaints received through the app or the telephone will be addressed by our partner, the National Human Rights Commission. The telephone number is 0800600606”.

She also reiterated her commitment to ensuring that the mining space in Nigeria is open and safe for all women, both professionals and artisans, who have found their passion in mining, saying that “Women in Mining in Nigeria will stop at nothing to achieve the eradication of gender abuse in the mining sector in Nigeria.”

According to the Founder, just about this time last year, we successfully concluded our program on Mainstreaming Gender and Gender Justice in the Solid Minerals Sector in Nigeria. Building on the tremendous success of that program, we made a commitment to embark on a second phase to further consolidate our efforts.

I am delighted to announce that we have successfully completed the program’s second phase, and this Summit officially marks the culmination of our year-long endeavour.

Recalling the program’s early days, Eng Adeyemi recalled that In August 2022, they had received support from the Open Society Foundation (OSF) to initiate a project titled “Safeguarding the Rights of Women and Children in the Solid Minerals Sector in Nigeria.”

This project was an integral part of our broader program to mainstream Gender and Gender Justice in the Solid Minerals Sector in Nigeria. By September 2022, our team was mobilized and our Programs department was empowered to complete the project within a record time frame while delivering excellent results.

Speaking on achievements within the period, Eng Adeyemi said, we conducted in-depth research on the levels of gender abuse and child abuse in the solid minerals sectors of Bauchi State, Kogi State, and Ekiti State.

“Our research revealed numerous cases of abuse in the sector that urgently need to be unveiled and addressed. In Bauchi, for instance, private stakeholders raised an alarm regarding the increasing incidents of rape at mining sites. Although government officials in the state acknowledged this issue, they expressed their commitment to addressing this menace and providing a safer mining environment for female miners.

She further alleged a persistent occurrence of child labour at mining sites in Bauchi, where children below the age of 10 are subjected to intensive labour alongside their mothers. Despite the executive order from the Deputy Governor of Bauchi banning the presence of children at mining sites, this issue persists.

She informed that as part of efforts to address the above, the Association extended its advocacy to Bauchi State.

“We visited key actors in the solid minerals sector and organized a State Policy Dialogue, bringing together stakeholders to focus on strategic ways to end gender and child abuse in the sector. In the presence of female miners in Bauchi, all state actors and stakeholders in the solid minerals sector demonstrated their unwavering commitment to ending all forms of abuse and strengthening their relationship with female miners. Furthermore, we organized the female miners and inaugurated a fully functional State Chapter of Women in Mining in Bauchi State, which will champion the realization of our goals.

She however expressed sadness as she informed that the Association lost its pioneer member and state coordinator, Hajia Nafisatu Baba who she said bowed to death as a result of sudden illness.

Moving on to Ekiti State, we encountered an organized mining sector consisting of five interdependent sub-sectors. The participation of women in the mining sector in Ekiti is high, and overall, the solid minerals sector in the state is accommodating to women.

She expressed gratitude to the former and incumbent first ladies of Ekiti State for their commitment to ending gender abuse.

The office of the first lady of Ekiti State has shown zero tolerance for such abuse, even when it involves a woman’s husband. Moreover, the state has implemented various mechanisms to track gender abuse in the solid minerals sector, she said

However, we observed gaps concerning child sexual exploitation in Ekiti State. Despite free education, many female children in Ekiti, a mining host community, are discouraged from attending school due to extreme poverty and the inability to afford educational materials, sometimes as low as NGN 200.

The president said it was common to see out-of-school children in Ekiti who become breadwinners for their families by temporarily working on mining sites until the harvest season. Parents in Ekiti rely on their young daughters for financial support, and some parents even pressure their teenage daughters to engage in relationships with men for money. As a result, 8 out of every 10 girls in Ekiti are pregnant, and these girls are between the ages of 13 and 16.

To address these challenges, Women in Mining in Nigeria organized capacity-building programs in Ekiti State. We provided training to WIMIN members on safe mining practices, human rights values, the menace of child labor and sexual exploitation, and the redress system within the extractive sector. We also returned to Ekiti for advocacy and policy dialogues to tackle the issues of child labor and sexual exploitation in the state’s solid minerals sector.

Our final stop was Kogi State, where we were confronted with disturbing reports of gender rights violations, torture of women, and child labour in the solid minerals sector.

At this moment, I would like to express my deepest sorrow over the tragic loss of lives that occurred on May 29, 2022, when some female miners and their children lost their lives in a mining accident in Kogi State. Among the survivors were children who suffered skull fractures and a female miner who had her arm amputated.

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