The inaugural Women in Mining meeting in June 2019 at DRC Mining Week in Lubumbashi.

A record number of ladies tuned in for the DRC-focused Women in Mining live webinar session during Digital DRC Mining Week that took place from 17-19 June.

WIM_DRC was first established in Lubumbashi at last year’s conference and exhibition and aims to end all forms of discrimination against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) mining sector and to develop the DRC by integrating the gender approach to ensure good governance, fairness and transparency.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 7, 2020
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The 40 participants of the WIM_DRC webinar included members of parliament, state and civil service workers, representatives of the industrial and artisanal mining sectors and civil society as well technical and financial partners. 

Men make important allies

“The challenges that women face in the mining sector are very similar if not the same worldwide. It always revolves around issues of inequality and equity,” said Kaleba Huguette Ngoie-Kasongo, executive director of HEAR Congo. HEAR is a grassroots organisation focused on vulnerable women and children.

“It is therefore very important that the women who are involved in this sector work in synergy in an inclusive manner. It is strategic to be heard under a structured and recognised platform, and WIM_DRC is a good example.”

Ngoie-Kasongo added that women can make men important allies to assist them in this process. “When all stakeholders recognise the invaluable contribution of women in the mining sector, they may well succeed in having a place.

“The goal is for women in this sector to be well equipped, well connected and to position themselves as leaders to embrace their roles and responsibilities. Beyond being heard, they need to be respected,” said Ngoie-Kasongo.

Clear vision of gender parity

Chairing the session was Gety Mpanu Mpanu, Deputy Head of Cabinet, Head of State in the Presidency of the DRC, who is also fondly known as the ‘godmother of WIM_DRC’.

Read more about DRC Mining Week

During the discussion on taking women taken into account when it comes to local content in the extractive industry, Mpanu stated, “It is important that women get involved significantly in order to contribute to the development of the country, particularly for a sector that has been dominated by men for decades, in public and private companies, in decision-making as well as in crafts.

“It should also be remembered that this expansion cannot be achieved without political will and without a clear vision of gender parity in the mining sector.”

According to Mpanu, to assume important positions of responsibility, it is important to invest in training in order to guarantee women who are experts in their fields.

“Despite the fact that the law requires 50%, today the rate of women in the mining sector is only 17%. With equal skills, female candidates should be prioritised.

“Furthermore, President Félix Tshisekedi supports the cause of gender and his government is working to strengthen this vision. Also, it is important that decision makers in the mining sector get involved so that the legal character is made effective,” she concluded.