Promoting Women Inclusion in Communities 2
Bekeme Masade-Olowola (Host): Hello, everyone, my name is Bekeme and you are listening to the Good Citizen Show. I am nervous and excited at the same time because the biggest most impactful conference on this side of the Atlantic is happening next week, Tuesday and Wednesday, 17th and 18th of November and every year, this conference happens. I am always in a tizzy like I am excited, I am nervous. There are so many things happening because we want to make sure that we put on the best for you, we will have legit expert speakers from all over the world, and from Nigeria’s top echelon from community, business, governments and policies sphere’s well as you can go register at bit.ly/2020sitie and what makes this year even more interesting is that we are having our second Community and Human Rights Awards CAHR Awards is happening. And we have had lots of people nominated very important people looking to win awards, and it was open, fair and transparent. We have juros in the persons of Rugged man, we have Emem Okon, and Dr. Mina Ogbanga both from the communities who are the experts. We have Schlluzz from classic FM, we have Mrs Tokunboh Durosaro, Miss Ireti Bakare-Yusuf and Otunba Babatunde Alatise, all of them independent of Bekeme and CSR-in-Action, and they will make sure that we choose the very people who ought to win, who are legitimately creating impact across Nigeria, I am going to continue with our conversation around women because I am a woman and I am daily tormented about the injustices that women face even without us realising it. I am going to have on the show today, a very special guest, a woman that I respect a lot who has proven herself in the mining space, and who has driven a lot of advocacy around women in mining. Before I introduce her, let me tell you one or two things that continue to bother me with women.
Globally, women have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks, and less political representation. Okay, at the community level, for instance, which is where, you know, I like to go to because often the townships do not really get a full picture of what is happening, the notion of free prior and informed consent, which is that people are proactively engaged such that they are able to give or withhold consent to projects that may affect them or their territories is almost totally alien. Let alone within households where you have, you know, men having authority over women. In most instances, this is as a result of customs and traditions that dictates that a man has absolute control over his wife, and the woman has no voice. Failure to involve women, people in the consultation process has oftentimes led to displacement and dissatisfaction for needs unmet due to inadequate representation. And I know this because I go to communities all the time, payment of compensation and royalties is often directed to men on behalf of their families, when in reality, many women do not have father or husband figures in their lives.
Oftentimes, as a result of abandonment, I would have to say that this issue of tackling gender inequality with the extractive industries which is oil and gas and mining requires a fundamental shift that cuts across values, culture and norms that promotes gender bias in the society. This is why we must have this discussion with engineer Adeyemi today. She is currently the founder and president of women in mining in Nigeria, which is an affiliate of international women in mining. She has served on the strategic development and policy implementation committee of the 2016 governor elect of Ondo state, she was or she’s an honourable herself, having served in Nigeria’s national House of Representatives, and in many other governance positions. She sponsored or co sponsored 15 bills enacted as low amongst several other initiatives and bills, despite serving as a member of a minority political party. Engineer Adeyemi is a researcher and advocate for global best practices that recognised gender as a key component of sustainable development to accelerate economic growth in emerging markets. She’s married and she has children. So, she is not a man hater or anything like that, but she knows the importance of including women for national growth. Welcome to the show Engineer Adeyemi
Engr Adeyemi: Thank you.
Bekeme: So, you are a veteran in mining, large, skilled, and artisanal. And you’ve been around for a very long time. How would you describe the experience of women in the extractive industries? Can you tell me some of the core challenges that they face and what should key stakeholders in the industry do to curb these challenges? Do you think?
Engr Adeyemi: Yeah, thank you again for inviting me to your programme,
Bekeme: you welcome
Engr Adeyemi: I want to tell you that as it is women are yet to occupy space in the mining industry, and it is one major thing in Nigeria and all over the world. Women are coming up but they are not yet there, when you talk in terms of number and in terms of strength they are not yet there. However, coincidentally we want to become a monograph or women in mining, where some few women were showcased by PT D. I. G where we featured Mary Teriba, Zainab Cole, Janet Ayaba, Hawa Ibrahim, president Halima and then myself, it cut across different women operators, entrepreneurs, exploiters, and professionals. But, what I am trying to say is that the issues are numerous, but some have to do with the structure living with it. One of the major challenges is partiality treatment in Nigeria, you find out that from a very youthful age, women have been wired to believe that your place is not a place in the man’s field, because if we categorize what we call a man’s field and a woman’s field. Irrespective of which color or religion, we have had to contend with society issues a girl child at a a young age is conditioned to imbibe values that are tagged normal by the girl, she is expected to learn housechores and how to raise and culture her famjy. And, finally when allowed to get some education it will be in act, any girl that ventures outside this is tagged by the society as wayward and often isolated. Or, sometimes in recent times, she make out the living she’s marching, she’s unusual, a lady is trained to be married off to a man where she is expected to take care of her husband and raise her family. It is believed that women are desclude to household under the functional, and under the financial care of their husband.
Bekeme: Although it has changed marginally when it comes to sciences, so, I mean, many girls now go for sciences, but then they go for not so the ones that are considered manly more engineering, they avoid engineering and computer science and more manly in quotes causes. But, I hear you.
Engr Adeyemi: As a result, am laying the foundation that was a past. So, you find that if we look back to the 18th century language, historical inclusion of women in the mining sector, women are doing very well, around England you find them mining,in France you find them mining, but what happens where they came in solving campaign, all the paper carried it that this women are dirty, this women are smelling, it is their mining and all that. Every man started pulling their women out of the mine, if you look at Sweden for instance where today they are doing very well again in mining unit technology, in those days women were equally removed from the mine because of all this campaign, because men themselves started coming up with undecent things to just scout and take them out. When you start seeing pornography going all over the place you start seeing that the numbers started reading. But thank God for what is happening again, situations are changing you find out that contracted miners are being made to get to the mines. When you come to our own situation then in Africa, we have a peculiar problem and that problem have various norms and culture and tradition that held the girl child back and totally excluded them from the political stay during decision making, because we are not even there when it happening to know which sector to go into, again in any nation people sit down round the table to forecast this is the sector that is to be attended to. But, we are living in the kitchen we do not know, so women have been held down by all this instruction of their self confidence, half education and all the tedious life under traditions or taboo’s. Look at Mozambique,the women they were restricted from mining because they believed that the spilling from the gem stone would go deeper into the earth
Bekeme: That is just something someone came up with to exclude the women.
Engr Adeyemi: yes, because this our monthly flow is a challenge to men, maybe because they do not experience it so they coin so many taboo’s around it. And so when you find things like that, they say when women are menstruating their presence in the mine would make the mine disappear. Or, if a woman whistles especially when she is menstruating it is wahala. So, all this kind of taboo’s are problems. Then the second point, you know I have mentioned two things which are the initial culture and campaign against it, now am talking about segregation. Segregation have kept women away from it, the legislature look as if they are protecting women from it but if you look at it,you will see selfish interest of the men. You know why? Look at our legislature Nigeria labour law section 53 and 54 of the Nigeria labour law, it restricted women from going underground. So, if you ask a woman not to go underground during training, after training what happens? Because at that time she is your wife and she is pregnant, why are you crying more than the bereaved, they said women should not go out and work in the night.
Bekeme: Yes, past 7pm or something like that, I saw that and I am amazed.
Engr Adeyemi: Because they do not want an empty bed, they want somebody to cuddle in the night. Because if women go out in the night who will the cuddle? So for me I keep in saying why are this people crying more than the bereaved.
Bekeme: Right, very interesting so when men go out who do the women cuddle? Their children or you know teddy bears? Anyway, so I’m just thinking
Engr Adeyemi: Women are supposed to be emotionally able to bear anything, but men are supposed to be pampered.
Bekeme: But how are we supposed to be the softer sex? Shouldn’t that be why we need somebody to cuddle at night and to protect us from the big bad evil that’s out there in the world?
Engr Adeyemi: Unfortunately, the world is not fair, because of what I call the jealous nature of men, how do you tell your man that I am going out to the mine site in company of about six men and I am the only woman. Every man believes that once a woman is in the company of men anything can happen, even when it’s not expressed, even in modern day time, if you listen to women because there is a program I am going to be organizing next year where women will come and share all manner of things with us. So for me I think that this are some of the key issues, then different regions again have different ways, if you look at the Muslims you will see why their women cannot mingle easily, you can only sit down with your wife, forget about that when you go to the core area and in mining you cannot do that in core areas. Then in very remote areas too let us look at some of the things that doesn’t make it easy for women to go into mining, for you to go into mining you just have to be rugged, as you see me, I drink anything, I eat anything am sorry to say even this covid period that they said we should be washing our hands every minute most times I forget. Sometimes when you go out to site, if you are a site person, you are just adapted to site life, you can eat anywhere you can sleep anywhere. Am just using it as a naration, when you want to wash your hand, where are the cleanest water to use to wash your hand in a site? You don’t have a borehole there.
Bekeme: As you speak, what comes to mind is that one of the challenges that women seem to have in today’s world is mindset. So we have been so acculturated that even when we see opportunities, we do not take them because in our heads, these are not opportunities for women. So how do you think that we can create a paradigmatic shift? How can these kinds of narrative change such that women become even more involved, and resource extraction and dialogue? I’m listening.
Engr Adeyemi: Can I tell you the truth? I believe that we abandoned who we are and we started picking what we do not understand, so we pretend to be classic while we are not. You will see a lady who pretends as if she doesn’t use the restroom, and you can’t control what the odour is it can be friendly atimes and it can be very repulsive atimes, but when a lady comes out and pretend, or a man comes out and pretend to be what you are not, you pick up false identity. You keep on paying your lecturers because today my lecturers are my great friends and my family, Professor Raman, Professor Ajayi, Professor T.A Adegoke, late Professor Kayode wherever they are today, may God continue to bless them. They made me love geology, it is one big family. So, all this harassment that people talk about, how did you dress? What did you wear? What was your disposition? Are you hardworking? Are result oriented or you want a shortcut? Something must give room to something, something must trigger something. When a student is not studious and you are look for Shortcut, and exam comes you go and meet your lecturers, then his mind too interprets something else that is the truth. So, somebody who is focused, who knows what she want will get what she wants, am not saying there are some lecturers out there that are not bad but unfortunately I have never experienced any, I can call out some of my colleagues where I am today fantastic group in those days, how many girls were in the whole department maybe about six or seven of us. So, I believe that this discouragement that I can’t go to the site, I can’t live in the site, so it you know you are not a site person do not go to that area of exploration or exploitation, there are some other things that you can do. You can be a mineral trader, you can be value trade asset owner, but identify the area you can fit in. So I believe that those are some of the basic instruction, then the other ones are the issues of funding. Access to funding is a major thing, mining is capital intensive, from the beginning of mining you need money, if you want to be a miner you must have fund, our banks are still not enough to do that, sobit a challenge and when you look at it in terms of asset, women do not have asset, because most women have joined assetin modern daytime. But, before then they do not even have any, so when you have joint asset, you are first of all going to convince your husband, having access to funding is a major issue. A good family support system is very important too, to be successful in this sector, if you go through the monograph, I will give you a detailed example of a woman who has refinery in Nigeria talks extensively about a strong family support, you will leave your family and go to Niger state , you need a husband who understands you and who can stand in the gap for you, or else you will have money and then raise vagabonds,or you will be lonely. So, you need to be very focused, you are inter relating with so many people the community, then you need the consent of the community, because some people can just stand up overnight just like the EndSars. EndSars started well but some people took over and so it is the same thing. So, you could come up with very good things and you have structured agreement but before you know it ,some vagabonds will decide to come and take it over. Take a look at people who are into very expensive minerals such as diamonds and gold, you can see the level of stake they take to ensure security protection of their goods. So security is another issue, then government officials, coping mechanism too is very important, I have talked about it a little, where you just keep on traveling from one location to another. Then mentoring, in anything we do in life mentoring is critical to success, some of them can be family members, some of them can be friends, sometimes it can be somebody extremely younger than you, at times when I first started initially, I will first of all write on a paper, my children will be laughing, mummy what kind of old school is this, so today when I do my work now and I do not call them, they will say mummy it seems you are now an expert, but they assisted me, so mentoring is very important. To be successful in this sector requires hardwork, just like hardwork, commitment and consistency is required in any sector in life, to show something all you have to do is look for a little more to the way you started. Education, when I talk about education I am not really talking about, modern education because all the courses I do online now, I ask my husband yesterday night I said why did they waste out time going to school, sitting down in the four walls of the classroom? So, the opportunities are there now to be educated in diverse ways, education is very very important.
If you know you lack education, in whatsoever you are doing all you need to do is to go online, there are some wonderful sites where you can get so much materials and get educated. So, education is very cheap now. Finally, I use to tell people that to succeed in anything, you need to practice abundance of humility, people usually think I am a feminist but I celebrate men alot, God will reward your work, they are the head and I still believe that men are the head and women are partners, so you can be a co partner in a firm but there must be somebody that is ahead. So, I do not deny that fact, when you are humble you get so much out of the man, women alone can’t do it, surround your institution with women alone it will fail and that is the truth. Because that is not how God structured it, so when we talk about women in this or that, what we are just simply telling the men is that we want to bring out our best for you the see what our potentials are, give us the opportunity to be able to do things. We might miss out when we are in the crowd and that is not good. So, humility is very important.
Bekeme: Thank you. Thank you, Engineer Adeyemi I think that you have just summed it all up for us. When we thought to have this discussion, I am sure that we had a different point of view. But every time that I speak to you, it is always a learning experience. You always bring in real life into it. And it is not just some esoteric experience. And I am sure that our listeners have learned a lot from my contribution today. Thank you so much engineer Adeyemi, we will keep on talking. Thank you, ma.
Engr Adeyemi: Thank you. Thank you, my darling, I wish you all the best.
Bekeme: so, you all you have been listening to engineer Adeyemi Well, it is always such a learning experience for me every time that I speak to her, some of the things that I think that we should go away with is you know, summary of what she said, You too can be involved in mining, whether you are a man or a woman, but you have to bear in mind that as she said, my name is not Alacart, you have to have access to funding and there are innovative ways of getting this but I would always say start small, and see how it grows. In another session. She had mentioned, women starting with jewellery and it is easier to get into that you need less funding. And then as you grow and haven proven yourself, you would find more people who are willing to invest. Please, if you are married, make sure that you marry the right person. the right support is always needed. If you are a single parent, make sure that you have a fantastic support system. If it is your family, extended family. If you have a good nanny who you have worked with for a long time that you can verify, go check out their family, wherever they are, be resilient is never easy. It’s never easy. There is no one person that you see at the top who will tell you that they got there easy. So be ready to work. It can be daunting, but you have to develop coping mechanisms and find the right mentors. Sometimes you do not have to meet your mentor in person, you can read about them, you can follow them and continue to read about the things that they do. Stay focused, be hard working, learn as you can, as much as possible online courses are there thanks to COVID-19 we have learned that there are lots of things that we can do online. And for me, the biggest and the best of all is humility. This is why Jesus was so successful whether you are a Christian or not, When you look at the life of Jesus, you know that humility is a virtue that you cannot do without. To hear more nuggets from engineer Adeyemi, make sure to register for the SITEI conference and the SITEI 2020 conference is happening next week, Tuesday and Wednesday, 17th and 18th of November, it is virtual, it is free to register bit.ly/sitei2020 as always, our conversations are so interesting. We were unable to take calls, but I am sure that without having interacted you still learn a lot. Follow us @goodcitizenng on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. For more nuggets like this and constantly give us feedback constantly encourage us because we are here for you. We want to tell every Nigerian that you too are capable of being the next best thing really because we have a duty and responsibility as Nigerians to keep on contributing to national good. I am your host Bekeme See you next week Friday at 8pm. Bye Bye.