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Loyzaga calls for end to gender inequality in mining sector

Antonia Loyzaga

Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga has underscored the need for the mining sector to prioritize actions to end gender inequality as part of the effort to promote responsible mining.

“There’s a need to ensure that women’s representation in the mining industry is both meaningful and substantive in all levels of decision-making,” Loyzaga told mining industry leaders at a luncheon hosted by the Philippine Mining Club last March 9 to celebrate the International Women’s Day 2023.

The environment chief discussed pressing issues affecting women, including indigenous women, in the mining sector and the impacts of the industry on communities.

She pointed to a 2020 scoping study commissioned by the Philippine- Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which listed key issues women face in the mining industry, such as gender-inequalities in the workplace, challenges they face as a result of environmental problems due to mining operations, lack of livelihood outside employment by mining firms, and absence of guidelines on the inclusion of gender-responsive projects in the Social Development and Management Programs (SDMP).

An SDMP, as required by the Philippine Mining Act, lays down the comprehensive five-year plan of a mining firm on how it would conduct its actual mining and milling operations toward the sustained improvement in the living standards of the host and neighboring communities.

Loyzaga lamented that women constitute the minority in the sector’s workplace and only a few women occupy technical and leadership positions, prompting her to call for “an enabling and empowering environment for women.”

“We hope that this will include the upscaling, strengthening STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education to motivate women to pursue careers that are very important and related to the industry,” she said.

Loyzaga also noted that women are most affected by degradations linked to mining operations, such as pollution of rivers and drying up of water sources, and that “these have added pressures on women as household managers and also as providers.”

The EITI-commissioned study likewise said that there are gaps in the context and implementation of policies and frameworks to address gender dimensions in the mining industry.

Loyzaga said this is one area that can be looked into when revisiting the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. “We will be looking at this in tandem with the Magna Carta for Women,” she added.

In closing, Loyzaga stressed that women should be recognized “not because they are women, but for the merit that they bring to the purpose of their organizations.”

“We cannot just rest on our laurels and say we need to be recognized. We must be women of substance, women of purpose, and women of achievement,” she pointed out.

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