ADVOCACY ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND ENVIROMENTAL JUSTICE IN EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES IN TANZANIA

Envirocare is currently implementing a one year project on ‘Advocacy on Women’s Rights and Environmental Justice in Extractive Industries in Tanzania”. The project is funded by Women Fund Tanzania (WFT). Under this project, Envirocare has conducted a baseline study on level of women’s involvement in extractive industries in Manyara, Mbeya and Shinyanga regions. The aim was to collect information from women and men working and living in communities around mining areas, then use training and advocacy to help them create a collective voice in protecting their environment and health, confront gender related challenges and improve their livelihood.

In Tanzania, exploitation of minerals is carried out by Large Scale Miners (LSM) and Artisanal & Small-scale Miners (ASM). The ASM is referred to as subsistence mining activities that involve individuals or enterprises which have low levels of technology mainly due to poor capitalization, lack of knowledge and skills. In Tanzania, it is estimated that 1.5 million people are directly involved in artisanal and small-scale mining and up to 25 % of who are women (Dreschler 2001).

Mining is a demanding physical activity, which historically has been conducted with very little mechanization and has traditionally been a male activity despite the fact that women have a big stake in ASM and play several roles and hold positions of significant influence in artisanal and small scale mining sector. However, with advances in technology and improved mechanization, women are increasingly participating in mining activities.

Despite having mining policy and laws in Tanzania, that are gender inclusive and gender neutral ,the sector lacks gender mining strategy that favor women. Mining activities affects women and men differently and actually serve to aggravate gender inequalities which lead women to face numerous obstacles therefore, hinder women participation in mining activities. Domestic violence, sexual harassment and assault are challenges faced by women in daily bases.

Also as mining sector continues to grow, both women and men face some challenges which  include a general inadequate of support services, geological information, technical assistance in environmentally sustainable and safe mining and processing, exposure to best practices in commercialization, as well as inefficient and unsafe equipment and practices.

Mining causes social, environmental and health issues in communities. Social issues include potential land conflicts, health hazards due to exposure to mercury and other hazardous substances and the spread of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB), environmental issues include deforestation, soil erosion and contamination of water bodies as a result of mismanagement in mining processing associated with hazardous chemicals.

Fig. Women at Mwime Gold mining at Kahama District, Shinyanga Region processing the sands as one of the steps of gold processing after being extracted from the small mines sites.

Gender issues and women empowerment:

Establish women networks and empower them to tackle challenges which hinder productively engagement in the mining sector through advocacy, training and awareness rising. Arrangement of a toiler made training to help women understand the mineral sector and manage their mining operations.

Awareness raising on environmental and mining laws and policies

Create awareness through training and advocacy on environmental and mining policies and laws among the miners for good practice minerals extraction.

Entrepreneurship and Financial services for women

Advocate for the inclusion of women in mining business by partner with local civil society organizations and financial institutions or cooperative banks to strengthen access to finance services that are affordable, practical and which do not require lots of bureaucracy, this will allow adaptation of the new technologies and successful mining and processing skills in an innovative way. Also training in financial management which is essential to ensure enough knowledge for the growth of the business and provide skills and knowledge on entrepreneurship, investment and diversification into non-mining sectors enhance women’s roles in the community by promoting local content.

Encourage formal and informal leadership opportunities for women.

Created a miner women’s club, with the goal of empowering women in the mining sector and creating an environment to provide support, advice, and mentorship so as to encouraging more women to apply for formal and informal leadership opportunities that will allow their collective voice to be head. Also local authorities’ should consult women in the communities on decision-making processes that help share women’s experiences, perspectives, and incorporate them into decisions about resettlement, compensation mechanisms, and community investments.

Freedom from Harassment and Violence

Support awareness campaigns and local counseling services for victims of gender-based violence and abuse including develop clear no-tolerance policies and reporting mechanisms.

Health issues:

Create awareness on health hazards as a result of misuse and mishandling of hazardous chemicals used in mining processing such as mercury and cyanide which are heavy metal and toxic, Authorities should make sure miner wear protective gear before working on any mining activity.

Pollution as a result of dust should be managed through modern technologies available to prevent dust from reaching animals and people hence preventing them from respiratory disease.

Moreover awareness on safe interaction and bad behavior such as prostitution should be created to help abstain from sexual transmitted diseases eg HIV-AIDS.

Restrict chemical usage and introduce new technologies:

Use of mercury and cyanide should be monitored and reduced. Simple and practical technology of mineral processing should be introduced. Gold washing with mercury should be done with the water recycling systems located outside residential areas

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