Women Miners’ organization gains support from US, Canadian missions
The dream of a woman to have equal opportunities in Guyana’s mining industry is slowly becoming a reality, thanks to the Guyana Women Miners’ Organisation (GWMO).
For decades women who dare to enter the “gold bush” to earn a living have been exploited, abused and labelled as whores. Against this background, Simona Broomes, a miner, formed the GWMO with the assistance of three other women miners.
The organization was launched last January with 45 members and Broomes as its president. The organisation’s membership grew to over 400 by December 2012 and represented women from every Administrative Region.
GWMO is growing and its original mandate of expanding opportunities for women miners has broadened. Help is given to the abused; hope is reassured to the prostitutes, and unemployed women are encouraged to join the mining sector in a meaningful way.
The GWMO does not operate in isolation. Its partners include the Government–particularly the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment–, US Embassy and the Canadian High Commission.
For an organization that focuses on women in the mining industry and encounters many social woes such as human trafficking, its relationship with the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is yet to be strengthened.
Simona Broomes is hoping that 2013 will see a closer working relationship with Government since it is quite costly to travel in Guyana’s interior locations. She saw the presence of Prime Minister Samuel Hinds at the body’s first anniversary celebration on Friday last as a positive sign for 2013.
It is hoped that some of the challenges that prevent members from reaching their true potential would be eliminated. However, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) have important roles to play in this regard.
According to Broomes, GWMO was unable to acquire a seat with voting rights on GGMC’s Board during its first year. The body will continue to engage those in authority since it is pertinent that women be involved at the policy level.
The body was unable to facilitate training for women in the industry. The provision of skills for life training would make women more marketable in the sector. Broomes said that many Commercial Sex Workers are looking forward to engage in these training sessions to liberate themselves.
The organization was promised a mining block. This is in its nursery stage and according to Broomes with the block women could be trained to earn a living.
Broomes said that despite the numerous challenges GWMO remains strong because of the “many cries”.
“The fact people are reaching out to us we know GWMO has a purpose. Every woman has their own terrible experiences and we understand and that’s what keeps us strong,” she said.
Within one year the cries of the abused, misused and the trafficked were heard.
The GWMO was skillful in rescuing several young girls from the jaws of sexual slavery. In fact, Government which once dismissed human trafficking as a social problem in Guyana has accepted that it exists.
“While enough is not being done to prosecute the offenders, on the flip side nothing is being done to help victims. The GWMO is advocating for a shelter to be built for victims of trafficking in persons and for women who have been exploited by unscrupulous employers and may be facing difficulties.
“These women should not be placed in homes for battered women…,” she stressed.
Broomes further recommended that shops should not be allowed to operate at any location operators deem unfit. Many illegal activities are conducted at those shops.
Another achievement of the body is the sensitization of women and men in every Administrative Regions about the GWMO. This was very effective since many times GWMO was able to help victims because citizens inform members of women being exploited and help was given.
Stronger and more experienced, the GWMO is ready for the new year. Representation of women miners and other women in the sector is the ultimate goal.