CIRDI CEO, Cassie Doyle, provided opening remarks at the Gender, Mining and Water Resources: Interconnections, Challenges and Future Outlook conference held in Lima, Peru in February 2017. The conference was jointly organized by CIRDI’s project: Education and Research for Integrated Water Resources Management in Peru and the School of Government and Public Policy at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). A multi-stakeholder steering committee oversaw the program development.
Below is an abridged version of Cassie’s remarks.
The purpose of this gathering is to reflect and exchange on a unique intersection of issues that are important to the future of sustainable development – how gender roles influence the impact and benefits of mining, with a particular emphasis on the related use of water resources.
Our work at CIRDI is guided by a set of core values, with an emphasis on Human Rights, Gender Equality and Indigenous Rights. Addressing women’s views, interests and needs is integral to how we work.
Good resource governance depends on full participation of women
Governance is at the heart of our work. What I mean by “governance” is all processes of interaction and decision-making, whether it is by governments, industry or local communities. We believe that strong governance is critical to fully understanding the impacts of resource development, reducing the inherent risks and increasing the distribution of benefits. The quality of governance depends on how inclusive the decision-making is. It also depends on:
- Strong and accountable governments
- Transparent processes
- Responsible and engaged industry
- Community participation
- Effective civil society organizations
- Accessible technical expertise and knowledge of resources and environment
We are convening this conference to assert that good resource governance depends on processes that allow for the full participation of women. Women need to be decision-makers at the political level, within industry, within communities and civil society to ensure good governance.
Exploring how mining differentially impacts women
We all know that gender is about the socially constructed roles that women and men play. Roles that are defined through socialization and culture and become engrained in the way institutions reinforce these gender differences. Focusing attention on gender roles related to mining and water, as we are doing at this conference, is aimed at raising awareness of existing biases. Biases that result in barriers that prevent women from being engaged in influencing and benefitting from mining development. This conference will explore how women are differentially impacted by mining, and share knowledge of how women could be better integrated as decision-makers.
We only have to look at the disparities that exist in the world to understand that more needs to be done to ensure women’s rights are upheld: the UN reports that only one fifth of parliamentarians world-wide are women; we know that women do the majority of unpaid work and are over-represented in vulnerable employment (such as artisanal and informal mining); there is at least a 25 per cent gap globally on what women earn as compared to men. And the mining industry itself has a poor record of including women as directors and executives compared to other industries. Globally the employment of women in formal mining is between ten and 20 per cent. Again, this goes back to the institutionalized culture of the sector.
Gender a Sustainable Development Agenda cross-cutting theme
It is encouraging to see that international development agendas are incorporating strong action on the status of women and children. Gender is a cross-cutting theme for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. SDG # 5 is very clear: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. It is also recognized that the active participation of women will be critical for the achievement of the entire agenda.
In Canada, we have a prime minister who calls himself a feminist, and a government that is deeply committed to building a development agenda around the empowerment of women and girls.
Gender analysis key to resource extraction risk reduction
At CIRDI, we believe that the application of gender analysis is key to reducing the risks of resource extraction – and to help ensure a more equitable distribution of the economic and social benefits. We are committed to building our own knowledge in collaboration with our partners, to contribute to building capacity around gender and natural resources governance. And that is why I wanted to be here for this unique conference: to further my understanding of how to improve the real participation and benefit sharing of woman around mining and water.
Women as equal partners in water governance
Water is a special thematic of this conference in recognition of its crucial importance to mining communities and to mining operations. It merits its own theme, as water is the most challenging dynamic related to mining development, and the main source of conflict surrounding mining. Issues surrounding water will continue to gain prominence as the availability of water is influenced by our climate, which is undergoing significant change. Both Canada and Peru are countries with an abundance of fresh water. But in both our countries we see evidence of the changes to the availability of water as a result of climate change. We see this in our receding glaciers and the impact on ground water. As water becomes more scarce, the importance of water governance, of careful decision-making related to its allocation and its use, increases. And this decision-making must include women as equal partners.
This is the reason that we are gathered here with you our valued partners – to shine a light on the intersection of gender and mining and water. To recognize that women are vital users of water. To explore together, with the full range of stakeholders in this room, how to better integrate the needs of women and their communities into decision-making around water and mining.