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Role of women in extractive sector

Sunday March 07 2021
woman pic

Geita Regional Commissioner Robert Gabriel is briefed by a geologist from the Geology Society of Tanzania (GST), Yorkbeth Myumbilwa (right), about geo-science during preparations for an international conference on mineral investment held in Dar es Salaam end of February, 2021. Women engage in the extractive sector via different routes. PHOTO | HERIET MAKWETA

By Rosemary Mirondo

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania women continue to face barriers in accessing and controlling the major means of production in such areas as land and capital.

There is also a variance in women participation in key sectors such as agriculture, trade and industries including the extractive sector.

Unequal power relations in decision-making at all levels and the presence of discriminatory laws and customary practices against women exacerbate the situation.

This is while Tanzania continues to enjoy a progressive economic transformation for the past five years due to investment in huge infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, airports, water and energy, as well as the contribution of the mining sector. Despite the steady economic growth, the impact is not always distributed equally along gender lines.

Evidence suggests that the sectors which drive the growth of the economy only takes a few women and youths in the supply chain due to a huge capital required for initial investment and the patriarchal nature of the sector, making women not benefit in the same manner as men and hence increasing gender inequalities in economic activities.

Women form the majority in the least growing sectors like agriculture, commerce, accommodation and food service.

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Recently, speaking to The Citizen separately, the Swiss Aid senior programme officer in charge of Extractive and Gender, Ms Alice Swai said for a long time, the extractive sector has been mainly dominated by men. “The extractive sector is perceived as dirty job, that destroys the environment and uses technical technology and machinery that can only be operated by men,” she said.

However, she said recently there have been campaigns to involve women in the sector because not all works are mechanical.

She said there was need for government and civil societies as well as other stakeholders to debate women to be involved in leadership positions in the extractive sector because already a number of women have been empowered and can hold high positions.

On the issue of local content, she said the government must put in place programmes that would ensure international corporations procured supplies from Tanzanians, including women.

“The corporations can prioritize women groups that pack foods including rice, vegetables meat among others and award them tenders for supplying such goods and services,” she said.

For her part, Haki Rasilimali’s advocacy and communication officer Lucy Lyimo was of the opinion that involvement of women in the extractive sector includes women employed in mines, those owning primary mining licences and those in the value chain.

“Most women in the extractive sector are in the value chain including vendors, food suppliers, processors among others, while those owning primary mining licences are few as well as those either employed in mines or gas and oil companies,” she said.

However, she noted that there were more women involved negatively in the sector that increase gender-based violence.

Since early 2000s, Tanzania has witnessed consistent change in its regulatory environment for mining sector meant to strengthen the taxation and fiscal regime.

Significant changes have also been realized since 2017 whereby new tax regimes have been introduced targeting to accelerate payment of taxes, restrictions on the carry-forward tax losses and right of deduction for rehabilitation expenditure (PWC, 2019).

In this regard, a number of fiscal and non-fiscal tools such as taxes, fees, and charges have been designed to govern the fiscal regime with anticipation that the government will accrue more benefits in order to invest in different socio-economic activities and livelihood diversification through employment, backward and forward linkages, and skills development.

Once mining related funds are put into the Consolidated Fund (CF), they tend to lose their identity and it can be challenging to track the extent of distribution across different social groups. Most of these funds (CF) are allocated into big projects such as infrastructure and energy with the 2020/2021 budget setting a priority area on rehabilitation of infrastructure; flagship projects; social services; agriculture and industry. However, it is worth noting that allocation of funds intended to improve agriculture and health system will have tremendous impact on women.

On the local content policy and strategy she said it was more inclusive because it created more opportunities that women could grasp especially in the value chain.

In another development, Tanzania Women Miners Association (Tawoma) secretary general Salma Kundi said in recent years there has been an increase in women participation especially in the value chain.

“We initiated the group to sensitize women to be involved in the sector and we started with 20 women in 1997 and now there are 2,000 involved in different segments of the sector,” she said.

Generally, revenue collection, expenditure control and accountability are guided by The Public Finance Act, of 2001 requiring all revenues (including those of raised from extractives) to be deposited into the CF which then can be drawn and allocated into various budget votes by the Ministry of Finance as guided by the Appropriation Act, 2019. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, agriculture employ almost 4.7 million Tanzanians from whom about 54 percent are women. The health sector reform is also important as it has been negatively affecting women’s access to quality health care.

However, the sectoral ministries set higher costs for running institutions (as other charges) with inadequate data on specific projects meant for groups such as women, youth and people with disability.

The Tanzania National Development Vision 2025 explicitly states that by 2025 Tanzania will redress all gender imbalances.

It further stipulates that all social relations and processes which manifest and breed inequality will be reformed and further that gender equality and empowerment of women in all socio-economic and political relations will be manifested. The second phase of the Five Year Development Plan further put emphasis in reducing poverty and job creation for women and youth as such integrating human development and economic growth.

The allotment of the national budget across the sectors has varied over the years. In terms of budget share, education and infrastructure sectors have maintained the top two largest shares of the national budget for the past five years.

Health sector has maintained the third position as a government priority followed by agriculture and then energy and minerals which have been competing as a fourth priority. While there is no substantive evidence which explains the reason for the inconsistent trends, it is obvious that government priorities change with every new governance regime and undeniably every year depending on availability of resources, especially from development partners.

According to the Mining Act,[5] Section 105 (1) requires that a mineral right holder on an annual basis, prepare a credible corporate social responsibility plan jointly agreed by the relevant local government authority or local government authorities in consultation with the Minister responsible for local government authorities and the Minister responsible for Finance.

The corporate social responsibility has to account for environmental, social, economic and cultural activities based on local government authority priorities of the host community.

The challenge is that this provision does not make CSR mandatory for mining companies; It just imposes an obligation to prepare a CSR plan and submit it to the local government authority and Ministry of Finance and Planning.

Further, the law does not make it mandatory for mining companies to engage with local communities in selecting projects to be implemented. Also, does not indicate or set a threshold of a minimum amount of money that mining companies should set aside for purposes of implementing CSR projects.

To ensure that women are not left behind and lose a lot from extractive operations, revenue sharing and legitimacy across different groups need to be debated in order to create a shared understanding of the revenue sharing formula amongst the public, policy makers and Legislature at all level.

The need to examine or monitor practices on the quality of revenues and overall local financial management, supervision and local capacity to support development projects intended for different social groups (especially women) is also key in order to advocate for proper policy direction.

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