Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for increased protection of women's rights in the cocoa and gold value chain. Despite existing laws in the agriculture and extractive industries, women continue to experience inequality and gender discrimination in resource allocation.
At a policy dialogue organized by the Centre for Public Interest in Law (CEPIL) in Accra, CSOs called for the recognition of the gender equality gap and the protection of women's economic opportunities, human rights, and environmental rights.
The event, titled “Influencing Legal Protection for Women in the Cocoa and Gold Value Chain,” aimed to identify gaps and legal documents available within the mining and gold value chain to address gender mainstreaming, as well as protecting human and environmental rights.
Nana Akuoko Afari, Assistant Programme Officer, Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), highlighted the adverse effects of mining on the environment and climate change.
He stressed the importance of declaring Forest Reserves, globally significant biodiversity areas, Ramsar Sites, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and National Parks and Cultural sites as “No go Zones” for mining operations.
Nana Afari recommended the amendment of Section 17 of Act 703 of the Mining Act to replace provisions that would protect water bodies as Ghana gradually becomes a “water-stressed nation.”
He cited evidence of gross human rights violations associated with mining operations and noted that mining community members had been deprived of their economic choices, clean and healthy environments, life, property, and adequate compensation.
The other challenges confronting communities in mining areas included threats and harassment, as well as the destruction of cultural and sacred sites.
To ensure adequate protection for communities, Nana Afari suggested that affected communities be determined and paid adequate compensation before the start of mining operations.
He noted that the mining sector policy had limited protection for women and recommended that mining policies and legal frameworks should ensure the distribution and transfer of mining income to local communities considered women.
Mrs Harriet Nuamah Agyemang, Senior Programme Officer, SEND Ghana, urged men to purchase their own land for the cultivation of agricultural products such as cocoa. According to her, men who often cultivated family lands took the better part of the proceeds from the venture, leaving women with little or nothing.
There were instances where landowners repossessed their lands after the death of the men who acquired them.
Ms Esther Aboagye, a representative of Women in Mining, called for a proper definition of equity in relation to gender issues.
Mr Augustine Niber, Executive Director, CEPIL, was optimistic that the event would strengthen institutions to influence the government to develop a stronger legal framework in the extractive (gold) and agricultural (cocoa) value chain to advance the cause of women.
Representatives from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Minerals Commission, Ghana Cocoa Board, Women in Mining, Environmental Protection Agency, WACAM and Women in Law and Development in Africa were present at the meeting.