Photo acknowledgement: J. Pather
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THE IMPACTs OF EXTRACTION ON WOMEN IN AFRICA (OCTOBER 2015)
WoMin and WoMin alliance members in East, West and Southern Africa carried out participatory action research during the course of 2014. Asking a question rarely posed in Africa – despite a sharpened focus on mineral and oil based industrialisation in the continent – what are the impacts of mineral and oil extraction on women, the research reports on instances of small and large scale mining, oil extraction, and steel production in seven different countries. One of the principle findings of the studies is that the impact of extractive industries on land, water and food systems – the communal wealth from which women create livelihoods for families and communities – are so grave that in the long term, the costs of mineral and oil based development tend to outweigh the benefits.
Driven by this participatory research, WoMin also presents an ecofeminist analysis of the African Union’s development vision for the 21st century as laid out in the Africa Mining Vision (2009) and the accompanying policy framework, Minerals and Africa’s Development (2011). From an African ecofeminist perspective, not only the consequences for women, but also those for entire mining affected communities must be incorporated into any development strategy of the 21st century given mounting drought in the continent and other consequences of climate change largely caused by excessive extraction and combustion of minerals and fossil fuels. Based on the analysis, WoMin makes two demands of the African Union and African governments – please read and circulate widely!
WoMin Analytical Paper:
The Africa Mining Vision: a Long Overdue Eco-Feminist Critique
The Africa Mining Vision (AMV) signed in 2009 by African Ministers responsible for mineral resourcesdevelopment throughout the continent, and its accompanying policy framework, Minerals and Africa’s Development, provide the most comprehensive strategy for African industrialisation in the 21st century. Central to the strategy is expanded mineral and other natural resource extraction for use in manufacturing within the continent, thus breaking from the long history of raw minerals exported from Africa ultimately for the industrial development of other continents.
Comprehensive and bold as it is, incorporation of the effects of such a development strategy on African women is absent in the AMV and Minerals and Africa’s Development. This is despite the facts that mineral and other natural resource extraction primarily affects rural populations, and most women in Africa continue to be employed in rural agricultural production. From an African ecofeminist perspective, not only the consequences for women, but also those for entire mining affected communities must be incorporated into any development strategy of the 21st century, particularly given mounting drought in the continent and other consequences of climate change largely caused by excessive, worldwide extraction and combustion of minerals and fossil fuels.
Showcasing seven community based studies by WoMin alliance members in sub-Saharan Africa, this paper begins to fill the gap of the voices missing in the AMV. It is demonstrated that mineral and oil-based development leads to the misuse of important resources typically undervalued and hence unaccounted for in policy making, including community wealth, food production systems and female labour.
The analysis concludes with two key policy recommendations:
In order to enable meaningful public participation in the policy framework and vision provided in the AMV and Minerals and Africa’s Development, WoMin calls on the African Union (AU) to make public the number of displacements estimated for the African continent with the implementation of The Africa Mining Vision over the next half-century. Given the potential magnitude of this figure – some 90 million as per the estimate provided in this analysis (see page 8) – such an estimation is merely the starting point of public discussion around the viability of harmonised, natural resource-based industrialisation in the continent.
In order to comprehensively evaluate the socioeconomic, environmental and thus human impacts of mining and oil-based industrialisation of the future, WoMin calls on African states to carry out national studies of all existing and abandoned mineral and oil-based development projects of the post-independence period. These studies should be shaped by a framework of collective socioeconomic loss, as demonstrated here, and should involve the active participation of women’s organisations, mining affected communities, policy think tanks, and academics in the fields of social and human development.