The Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) last Friday delivered a stinging rebuke to some government
A section of the audience at the Guyana Women Miners Organisation anniversary celebration
agencies which it said are slipping away its collaborative hand as they continue advocating for better treatment and equality in the mining industry.
“We have worked with the government, we have worked through the Ministry of Natural Resources… we have been disappointed by many of the government agencies who have resisted our attempt for collaboration and showed disregard for our organisation,” GWMO President Simona Broomes told a gathering at the organisation’s first anniversary. Broomes also stated that the organisation has enough evidence to show that Trafficking in Pe
rsons (TIP) exists on a large scale.
“Trafficking in Persons is a serious issue in Guyana, while enough is not being done to prosecute offenders, I dare say not enough is being done to help the victims,” she said. The organisation is calling for a shelter to be built for TIP victims rather than having them placed in homes with abused women. She explained that the women should not be treated like “prisoners”; rather they should be specially trained so they could be reintroduced into society at any given time.
The GWMO noted exploitation of women as another major issue, and as such, they have been advising women to sign contracts before they proceed to work in the Interior.
Here to stay
The GWMO president said the organisation is here to stay and intends to bring an end to all kinds of exploitation. The organisation is also calling for night landings at some airstrips as well as more transparency in the system.
Natural Resources and the Environment Minister Robert Persaud said the women’s involvement in the mining industry must be respected and the feeling of equality must be created. He noted that it is a very challenging and exciting time for the mining industry as the organisation celebrates its first year in existence.
“We recognised that there were new changes in the mining sector such as the Low Carbon Development Strategy, the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Norway and Guyana, the clampdown on the restoration of mining sites and the mercury ban are some key and current issues we have to deal with,” he added.
He hailed the GWMO as a reliable partner in the ministry’s push to address the challenges in the mining sector, and urged the organisation to ensure compliance with the laws that govern their activities, not only within their organisation but across the board. He noted that the government is now developing newer technologies for the extraction of gold in the absence of mercury. Mercury use in mining was banned at the beginning of this year.
Minister Persaud also acknowledged human trafficking as one of the social ills associated with the industry and noted government’s zero tolerance for the illegal trade.
He said the GWMO is an “important soldiers” in the fight against human trafficking, and encouraged the body to collaborate with the relevant ministries in an effort to eradicate TIP. “You will have an equal place in the mining industry,” Minister Persaud said as he concluded his presentation.