“The peoples of the United Nations have (…) reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” Adopted by world leaders in 1945, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its fundamental principles, such as “equal rights of men and women”, prevail as a foundation to prevent all forms of discrimination and to protect and promote human rights as the responsibility of all states. In terms of human rights and social justice, gender equality remains a serious and meaningful goal in itself. However, efforts to promote and advance equality between men and women can benefit various social and economic objectives. The United Nations point out that “there has been a steady accumulation of evidence that gender differences and inequalities directly and indirectly affect the impact of development strategies and hence the achievement of overall development goals.” The UN identify that investing in women and reducing gender inequalities can lead to the significant improvement of education and health sectors and is essential to reduce poverty, speed up economic development and achieve sustainable growth.
Gender inclusion should also be considered as a powerful leverage to address and tackle corruption in private and public spheres. As recognized by the Beijing Declaration Platform for Action, “the empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of women’s social, economic and political status is essential for the achievement of both transparent and accountable government and administration and sustainable development in all areas of life…. Achieving the goal of equal partnership of women and men in decision-making will provide a balance that more accurately reflects the composition of society and is needed in order to strengthen democracy and promote its proper functioning.” One way of promoting gender inclusion and empowering women to fully exercise their human rights is through gender mainstreaming, defined by UNESCO as “the deliberate consideration of gender in all stages of program and policy planning, implementation and evaluation, with a view to incorporate the impacts of gender at all levels of decision making.”
This synthesis seeks to produce a comprehensive overview about the existing literature on gender inclusivity within the mining sector in Mongolia, and to provide interested readers with reliable, up-to-date sources. Mongolia is a resource-rich country and the extractive industries are particularly powerful, sometimes even closely related to political elites. The mining sector is particularly at-risk regarding corruption, conflict of interest, bribery and land or resource mismanagement. Transparency International states that “corruption operates in a context where women are underrepresented at different levels of decision making and are most often denied the benefits from social and economic development. Women’s limited participation in mining-related consultations means that the potential impact of the mining project on women will not be captured or taken into serious consideration and mitigated in mining operations.” At the same time, poor community engagement can lead to the interests of the different groups of women and men in the community to be ignored by companies and leaders for their own gain, especially during the licence approval process.
The Asian Foundation observes in its Gender Assessment of Mongolia that “gender dynamics in Mongolia have been shaped by social-cultural norms, six decades of socialism (1924-1989), and the transition to a market economy in the past 23 years. Mongolia has issued extensive legislation to advance gender equality and women are, on average, better educated and healthier than men. However, diminishing female participation in national politics, increasing wage gaps and male dominance in key economic sectors are emerging phenomena.” The UN and REDD+ note in their report concerning Mongolia that “unequal distribution of wealth, entrenched poverty, and marginalization and exclusion of certain groups remain major challenges today.”
Mongolia, through its integration of international commitments and relatively strong legal framework, has taken steps towards advancing and mainstreaming gender equality (mentioned in the Mongolian Constitution, Labor Law, Family Law, Civil Code and Criminal Code). The Great State Khural of Mongolia (Parliament) passed in 2011 the Law on Promotion of Gender Equality. The law ensures gender equality in the political sphere (Article 8), economic sphere (Article 9), civil service (Article 10), employment and labor relations (Article 11), education (Article 12), health care (Article 13) and family relations (Article 14). In 2016, the government approved of the 2017-2021 National Program on Gender Equality. Its purpose is to “provide support to the gender-responsive policy and planning processes required to reach the sustainable development goals and to implement the Law on the Promotion of Gender Equality”. Despite pro-active efforts, “women are underrepresented in higher leadership positions and high political positions. Women are less represented in decision making in the political and economic spheres due to largely influenced by gendered stereotyped cultural norms and behavior. Mongolia ranks 117 out of 142 countries in the gender gap sub-index on political empowerment, falling 14 spots from 2014. The share of female parliamentarians in Mongolia has been as low as 3%. However, for the first time in Mongolia’s history the share of women in the new parliament (2016-2020) increased to 17.1% compared with 14.5% of the previous parliament (2012-2016).”
The same gender inequalities between men and women in leading positions are visible when assessing the gender-based labor division in the extractive industries: “the expected traditional roles for women such as family carers or providing support remain an issue that impedes the advancement of women at various levels. For instance, at the operational level, women’s jobs tend to be concentrated in administrative positions and provision of clerical or domestic services with a similar division in mine sites (…) The fairness of the recruitment, promotion, and empowerment of women in the industry has long been questioned.”
Studies have shown that the extractive industries have different impacts upon men and women, and that the latter suffer more from the negative effects. The extractive industry sector has an important part to play in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which “represent the world’s plan of action for social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic development”, adopted in September 2015 by 193 UN member states. “Historically, however, mining has contributed to many of the challenges that the SDGs are trying to address – environmental degradation, displacement of populations, worsening economic and social inequality, armed conflicts, gender-based violence, tax evasion and corruption, increased risk for many health problems, and the violation of human rights” . The mining sector can positively contribute to the advancement of the SDGs and foster economic development by improving their accountability. In recent decades, some extractive industry companies around the world have started to recognize that gender equality has a significant impact in economic development and social progress, and have committed to improve their gender inclusion policies and actions to benefit women’s empowerment in various aspects of their activities. Despite the apparent openness of the sector in discussing gender-related issues, “certain analyses demonstrate that the business case for diversity in the workplace is fundamentally harnessed by the industry to perpetuate the status quo—which is of a highly masculinized sector—while presenting a modern and acceptable face to society.”
It has become increasingly acknowledged by organizations and corporations that, “safe, accountable, accessible and, most importantly, gender sensitive mechanisms that take into account cultural and gender issues that might hinder reporting, should be created.”
Recognizing the importance of promoting gender equality in anti-corruption programming, the Transparency International (TI) movement adopted a resolution on gendered corruption in 2018 in which it stated that gendered corruption such as sextortion is a clear violation of women’s human rights and committed to mainstreaming gender perspectives in all its programs, activities and policies both at TI-Secretariat (TI-S) and national Chapter level. As part of their continual advocacy work with governments, Transparency International “calls on all G20 members to take concrete measures towards implementation in these areas during the remaining of the current G20 Anti-corruption working plan, and report publicly on the progress they have made no later than the end of 2021”.
In compliance with Transparency International gender strategy, TI Mongolia identified the need of including a gender lens to its work to combat corruption through transparency, accountability and participation. We want to involve women in the decision-making process by including them in our multi-stakeholder discussions, where investors, companies, governments and civil society will increase their effort to systematically represent them. Educating women and communities on the differentiated impacts of corruption on men and women in Mongolia is a first and necessary step towards comprehensive understanding of mining and gender-related issues. In order to do so, it is essential that NGOs work together with the government and the National Gender Committee, and assert their bargaining power. We are advocating with government agencies and mining companies to be aware of the need to make their processes and guidelines more gender inclusive to enable different groups of women to know and exercise their rights, and to engage in relevant mining processes. “Only through the equal participation of women can we benefit from the intelligence, experience and insights of all of humanity. Women’s equal participation is vital to stability, helps prevent conflict, and promotes sustainable, inclusive development. Gender equality is the prerequisite for a better world.” – Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General