UWA co-convenes West Africa workshop on the gender pay gap in mining

UWA through the Minerals and Energy for Development Alliance (MEfDA), with funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), hosted a Women in Mining event on the theme “Do women in mining earn less than men?” on 23 May 2019 at Hotel de Hilda, Tarkwa, Ghana. Fifty nine people attended including 43 women and 16 men. The audience participated in a mobile poll in which they responded to question on their understanding of gender pay gap, whether they think it is as issue in West Africa and how many people have experienced it.

Panellists included Associate Prof Grace Ofori Sarpong, Mineral Engineering Department, University of Mines and Technology Ghana (UMAT) and President, Ladies in Mining and Allied Professions in Ghana (LiMAP-GH); Ms Catherine Kuupol Kuutor, Metallurgical Manager, Abosso Goldfields Limited; Dr Frank Boateng, Lecturer, Management Studies Department, University of Mines & Technology; Ms Annonciata Thiombiano, Association of Women in Mining Burkina Faso (AFEMIB); Ms Bintou Noumousso Bissau, Federation of Women in Mining, Mali (FEMIMA); Ms Ange-Désirée Tia, Study Manager, Ministry of Mines and Geology & Network of Women in the Mining Sector of Côte d'Ivoire (FEMICI) and Mr. Isaac Kallon, Regional Mining Engineer, National Mineral Agency, Sierra Leone.

Panellists spoke about the challenges women in ASM face, where women are restricted to the lower-paying roles of carrying ore, panning and fetching water while men have the higher-paying roles like digging. Ms. Bissau spoke about a region in Mali where women do all the work to support their husbands. Ms. Thiombiano shared a personal story of how she was prevented from owning land because traditionally it is not accepted that women should own land.

Other panellists spoke about how they approached childcare responsibilities and professional career development. There were mixed responses on the extent to which gender pay gap is an issue – a majority of the audience felt that women get paid the same amount of money as men for the same work however few understood gender pay gap as the difference between women's and men's average earnings. Solutions to address the gender pay gap ranged from women being more assertive, legislation and company policies.

The Minerals and Energy for Development Alliance (MEfDA) is a powerful initiative of Australia’s global leaders in minerals and energy science, education, research and technology innovation – The University of Western Australia (UWA) and The University of Queensland (UQ) – both ranked in the top one per cent of universities globally.

Through an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach, the Minerals and Energy for Development Alliance tailors its engagement to specific needs and local contexts. It supports individuals, organisations and governments by:

  • Delivering world-leading tailored minerals and energy capability

  • Partnering with implementers, co-investors, donors, aid agencies and global institutions to deliver the Alliance Program

  • Focusing on emerging economies, particularly in Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America

  • Building knowledge, skills, technical expertise and leadership capacity to enable leaders to influence change

  • Realising strong minerals and energy governance to deliver inclusive and sustainable economic growth and social development.

MEfDA aims to differentiate itself through a focus on leadership and empowerment, and an integrated program whereby activities build on each other to realise synergies and greater impact than standalone training exercises.