Women’s voice and agency - fighting corruption in the mining sector


Image: Unsplash/ian-mcgrory

9 March 2021

By Tamika Halwiindi, Transparency International Zambia

To effectively combat corruption, supporting women’s voice and agency is critical. Women need to have a seat at the table and be part of decisions about mining projects.

This is a fact that we have become increasingly aware of in our work to tackle corruption in the mining sector in Zambia. Transparency International Zambia is one of 20 countries participating in Transparency International’s Accountable Mining Programme. Our research has found that the lack of transparency in mining approvals creates a breeding ground for corruption.

For TI Zambia, our focus has been on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and resettlement processes as part of mining decision making. We’ve been working to support women’s voice and agency in these key areas, conscious of the fact that in the Zambian context these are significant processes for host communities to participate in mining decision-making.

Tamika Halwiindi presented a ‘lightening talk’ to the Gender in Oil, Gas and Mining Conference.

How we have supported women’s participation

With regards to EIAs, we have organised focus group discussions with women and men in host communities to find out what barriers women face that prevent them from actively participating in the EIA process; and to find out from them how mining affects them socially and environmentally. We then use this information to communicate to women and men the importance of gender inclusion in the EIA public consultations.

We want to ensure equal gender representation during TI-led community engagements to try and build women’s confidence and the relevance for women to attend and participate in mining themed meetings or activities, so that they develop the voice and agency to speak up and represent themselves.

When it comes to issues of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), we have used a similar approach and begun with community awareness, which is important as most host communities in Zambia were not aware of the concept. We have made information available to both women and men, highlighting the importance’s of women’s participation in mining decision-making.

Through this we have learnt that women are more susceptible to land grabbing or encroachment by mining actors. This is compounded by the fact that most mining projects are located on customary land. Where such an issue occurs, we help engaging traditional leaders, particularly the chiefs to support resolving land issues which are symptoms of inadequate consultation of host communities.

Opportunities for future efforts

An opportunity we have identified in the context of traditional leadership is working with headwomen or indunas – women who hold leadership positions in traditional structures. These women can be enablers of our advocacy work so we are trying to see how we can engage these strategically placed women in traditional leadership who present an opportunity to open up more spaces for women to participate at community level in mining decisions.

TI Zambia is just one of 20 Chapters implementing the Accountable Mining Programme. Many Chapters are exploring the link between gender, corruption and mining and we are working together to promote gender equality across our work. To tackle corruption and promote a world a truly fairer world, women must be included.