Promoting Women and Youth Participation in the Mining Sector in the Great Lakes Region
Kampala, Uganda, 9 June 2023 – The Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region in collaboration with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and with the financial support of the Kingdom of Belgium organized a meeting in Kampala, Uganda on 7 – 9 June 2023. The meeting, organized under the theme “strengthening women and youth ownership of the regional initiative against illegal exploitation of natural resource (RINR)”, brought together participants from 12 countries in the Great Lakes region.
The Great Lakes region is home to a vast array of valuable mineral resources, which are in high demand on the global market, particularly due to the ongoing energy transition. However, the region faces numerous challenges in harnessing the potential benefits of these resources. The exploitation and trade of minerals often occur through informal and illegal channels, resulting in limited gains for the countries and communities. Additionally, the revenue generated from such activities has been known to fund armed groups, perpetuating conflict, and gender-based violence, which affects women, youth, and children the most.
To address these issues, the Regional Initiative Against Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (RINR) was launched in 2010, with subsequent efforts to integrate gender mainstreaming in the mining sector. The RINR is anchored under the United Nations Strategy for Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention in the Great Lakes region which supports among other things, the sustainable management of natural resources and the economic empowerment of women and youth.
Speaking during the opening session of the meeting, Serigne Diene, who represented the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region Huang Xia, highlighted the role of women and youth as agents of change and their inclusion in regional efforts aimed at promoting sustainable peace and development. He further assured of the commitment of the OSESG-GL to work collaboratively with the ICGLR and regional member states for the transparent and inclusive governance of natural resources. "In these areas of instability, women and youth are often the hardest hit, having unfortunately not been spared the persistent economic challenges caused by COVID-19,” said Mr. Diene in his opening remarks.
Uganda’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Development Hon. Dr. Ruth Nankabirwa Sssentamu addressed the participants during the opening ceremony and noted that the project provides a platform to build collaborative partnership that will bring positive change in the mining sector, especially for women and young people. She further noted that the projet should contribute to a more transparent mining management of natural resources that will translate to shared prosperity, lasting peace and sustainable development in the Great Lakes region as well as in the implementation of the regional initiative on natural resources to fight illicit exploitation of natural resources.
During the meeting, participants discussed ways to enhance the knowledge of women and youth regarding national, regional, and international legal instruments governing the mining sector. Other discussions centered on responsible and transparent mineral management, the facilitation of the integration of women and youth in the mining sector by bringing together key actors at regional and national levels and the sharing of experiences of developing and implementing national strategy documents in Rwanda and Uganda and the promotion of women and youth participation in the mining sector.