Liberia: Sub-Regional Women Hosts Learning and Solidarity Exchange for Affected Women Protection Against Mining Companies

Grand Cape Mount County — Womin, under its “Right to…

Grand Cape Mount County — Womin, under its “Right to Say No” program, has conducted a two-day Sub Regional Learning, Solidarity, and Exchange program to share experiences on issues affecting women residing in mining areas in Liberia.

A team from Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea, and Ivory Coast, on Wednesday, October 3, joined their fellow women of mining-affected areas in Coboyah, Grand Cape Mount County to defend the rights of women against pollution of the Mafa River by chemical used by the Bea Mounting Company in Grand Cape Mount County.

Women from five mining-affected communities are now demanding immediate action from the Government to protect their rights to farmland which they claim have been violated by mining companies.

The women who are members of the Natural Resource Women Platform (NRWP), Green Advocates International (GAI), and Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD), accused mining companies of forcibly taking their land, water pollution, and desecrating their traditional and cultural sites.

The women are from Sinoe, Margibi, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, and Bomi counties. In a joint statement issued on, October 4, following a one-day visit to Cobboyah, Grand Cape Mount County, where Bea Mountain operates by the women, and the African Gender and Extractives Alliance (WOMIN), a South African-based organization and other women from Cameroon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Burkina Faso.

The delegates from the five African countries shared their experiences with their Liberian counterparts and provided insights on how they have been able to resist the violations of their rights by concession companies.

“After a solidarity and experience sharing visit, women from the six countries are jointly demanding urgent action from the Government in protecting the rights of communities especially women in the affected communities,” the statement said.

According to the women from Sinoe County their land has been completely overtaken by Golden Veroleum, leaving them with no land to make farms as well as carry out their traditional practices.

In the Salala Rubber Plantation, Margibi County, they said women are facing a similar situation with no land for farming as the rubber plantation has completely taken over the land leaving towns and villages with nowhere to make farms and gardens.

A similar situation is taking place with the Liberian Agriculture Company in Grand Bassa County where nearly all the land is occupied by rubber trees. In the Bea Mountain concession area in Grand Cape Mount Count, the situation is even worse where women in the affected communities appeared very depressed from the stress of traveling over long distances to get water and food for the family due to pollution of the major source of water with chemicals.

” The statement added that people in these affected Communities are left without any other source of livelihood as these communities depend on the land for farming, use for medicinal, traditional, and other purposes, and the water for farming, drinking, swimming, bathing, fishing, cultural, religious, traditional activities and other sources of livelihood.

“With the actions of these concessionaires to take away the land and cause pollution to the water, the communities mainly women are finding it very difficult to survive. Many women from the five counties in Liberia wept bitterly while narrating their ordeal to the other women from West African countries that had come to see their plight.”

“Women who are caregivers are suffering and are the most impacted as they have to go out in search of food and water for the family thereby further exposing these women to abuse and violations of their human rights and dignity.”

“We are here because you started the fight,” Georgine Kengne, WOMIN, Consent and Right To Say No Coordinator said. “You started the struggle with the community and NGO and you have not yet satisfied with the response.” She assured the women full support through awareness and empowered them to know their rights, and how to engage their companies. “We want to assure you that it’s possible that this fight. We are coming to support what you have started here,” Kengne added.