ICGLR to tackle sexual assault in mines

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Member states of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) have stepped up efforts to streamline the mining sector activities especially tackling cases of sexual abuse which is said to be a major concern.

In a meeting held on August 26, in Kigali, ICGLR member states; Burundi, Congo Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and the host Rwanda resolved that gender balance needs to be improved and women working in mines protected.

The discussion of the ICGLR member states focused on how to unify strategies, and initiatives on fighting gender based violence and each country tasked to set up special implementation teams to the effect.

The meeting was in line with the 2011 Kampala Declaration by heads of state during Fourth Ordinary Summit and Special Session on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), which recommended fast tracking of reporting and documentation of SGBV cases from the grassroots and prosecution of those responsible for perpetrating sexual violence.

Rwanda’s State Minister in charge of Mining, Evode Imena said that the numbers of women in the mining sector still remains low due to cases of women abuse that are reported in the sector, but was positive Rwanda would take the lead in implementing the recommendations, since the country’s policies are already gender or woman friendly.

Official records show, the number of women in mining is still low, Out of 727 licensed mining companies in Rwanda only 19 percent were owned by women. Likewise, of the 37,000 mineral workers just 19% is women, the government’s target is to boost these figures to at least 30 per cent, Imena said.

Ambassador Eliane Berthe Mokodopo, the Executive Secretary in charge of gender, women and children programs in Secretariat of the ICGLR said that gender based violence in the mining sector is commonly done by rebel groups operating near the mines.

“Armed rebel groups in the region should be put to an end in order to encourage women to join the sector” Mokodopo noted.

The Kampala summit declared Zero Tolerance of SGBV crimes and impunity and recommended the adoption of national campaigns for the same simultaneously in all member states of the ICGLR.

The summit also recommended Increase financial and technical support for judicial and security sector reform on human and women’s rights and SGBV eradication. This will provide institutional capacity and accountability to protect women, girls from SGBV in peace times, during conflict and post-conflict situations as a political and security strategy.