When the government of Ghana announced that mining had generated $3.3 billion in 2019 through exports, Australia Awards alumna Georgette Barnes Sakyi-Addo already knows the potential and role of women in this sector from the inside out. She is working tirelessly since 2012 to promote the active role of women, and today she is at the forefront of mining in Ghana. She also leverages her appointment as President of the Association of Women In Mining (WIM) in Africa in 2019 to advance women in mining across the continent.
“If exports were making mining a major earner of forex for the country, why weren’t more women participating in and benefiting from the industry,” asked Georgette, Chief Executive Officer of Georgette Barnes Limited and founder and President of Women in Mining Ghana (WIM). “After all, women represent 51 per cent of the population, but only 10 per cent own a concession or are in mining exploration.”
“Women are not aware of opportunities or are afraid or feel culturally inferior to the men largely benefiting from the industry,” says Georgette. Because of this “while it’s promising that the government has formulated policies to address gender disparities in the mining sector, implementation remains a challenge.”
Determined to reverse the tide, Georgette is steadily applying the knowledge and skills gained while completing her Post-graduate Certificate in Mining Law & Policy from the University of Ghana and the University of Western Australia, to contribute to the sustainable role of women in mining. A major milestone was founding WIM Ghana in 2012, an inspirational network of with like-minded women determined to drive their role in mining forward.
“The network empowers women to advance careers in mining, including by equipping them with knowledge. We’ve helped strengthen the awareness of mining opportunities and the leadership skills of at least 250 women through online leadership training,” says Georgette. “We’ve also provided a respected platform for engaging with industry and government representatives. It’s about positioning women to contribute meaningfully to the country’s economy and fairly benefit from that economy.”
WIM Ghana both attracts women to join and take up senior positions in the mining industry, including by offering opportunities through research projects and networking. It also operates a mentorship program for girls in primary schools. This year, WIM Ghana is planning to establish a model for an all-female owned mine and a database of all women in mining. Georgette believes the database will enable WIM to put forth more women to potential employers and investors.
To further encourage women to seize opportunities in the sector, Georgette is also determined to map gender representation across Ghana’s mining value chain. “This will enable the country to identify and fill gender gaps between males and females in the sector and increase the number of credible local and international investors into mining to benefit women,” says Georgette.
For her advocacy and tireless pursuit for equity in the sector, Georgette has gained a great deal of recognition, including winning the Invest in Africa Woman Entrepreneur Award in 2019, which acknowledges her entrepreneurial skills in establishing a mine support services business. Georgette maintains her links with Australia through Georgette Barnes Limited, who represents two Australian companies, Australian Mud Company and WESTERNEX, in Ghana. She holds a Post-graduate Certificate in Mining Law & Policy from the University of Ghana and the University of Western Australia and, a Certificate in the Principles of Mining Engineering and Surface Mining Operations from the University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa.
Photo Credit: Georgette Barnes