This year’s Oxfam Mining Symposium, titled ‘Sustainable Mining: Putting Gender on the Agenda’, was held at the Melbourne Business School on 21 April 2017.
The symposium provided an opportunity for attendees to discuss how to effectively consider gender-specific impacts surrounding extractive projects, as well as an opportunity for industry representatives to share their current social development projects that have a gender-specific focus.
Approximately 60 representatives from NGOs, academia, government, financial and legal firms and the extractive industry attended the event, held under the Chatham House Rule without media present. The conference format was a mixture of guest speakers and panel sessions, designed to facilitate open discussion about lessons learned from past experiences and opportunities to improve.
Opening presentations were followed by three panel discussions and a presentation from Oxfam, each with a unique area of focus. The first panel discussed the specific context and impacts that affect women in proximity to extractive projects. Oxfam then showcased their Gender Impact Assessment tools, designed to enable mining companies to consider the impacts of mining through a gender lens. Panel two focused on sharing industry experience relating to the implementation of social development programs for women. The third panel was a discussion focused on how to facilitate women’s access to the benefits of mining, particularly in developing contexts.
From my perspective, the day highlighted that we, as an industry, can improve on two fronts. We still have a long way to go to improving gender equity in the workplace and facilitating greater employment opportunities for women, in Australia and abroad. We must also consider gender-specific impacts from the early stages of project evaluation and feasibility work and carry this commitment through the entire project life cycle. In addition, we simply don’t know enough about how women influence an operation’s social licence to operate.
A special thanks to Oxfam and the Melbourne Business School for making this event possible.
Photo courtesy Oxfam.