A campaign in partnership with Oxfam for at least 30 percent of the Mineral Development Fund to be allocated for women economic empowerment in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality and the Ellembelle District of the Western Region of Ghana. The campaign will also influence the development of guidelines for gender-responsive budgeting in the allocations from the Fund to District Assemblies and Local Management Committees.

Mineral royalties are a key source of revenue to subnational governments in mining-affected communities. In 2016, Ghana’s Parliament passed into law the Mineral Development Fund (MDF) Act (Act 912) to allocate a portion of mineral royalties to sub-national governments (district assemblies) in mining-affected communities to mitigate mining impacts and provide funds for development. The MDF Act requires the development of regulations that will guide its implementation one year after the act comes into force. However, four years have passed since the act was operationalized, the government has yet to develop the necessary regulations. These governments can use gender-responsive budgeting to address the differentiated needs of the community, particularly those of women.

The National Gender Policy and the National Development Planning Commission’s (NDPC) guidelines on medium term development plans for district assemblies impose gender-sensitive budgeting on all district assemblies. However, Ghana’s current budgeting process does not follow these standards. The failure to implement gender-responsive budgeting at the national and subnational levels could further entrench gender inequality, particularly in areas where men dominate the decision-making processes. The MDF regulations provide an opportunity to model gender-responsive budgeting at the local level to ensure that the specific needs of men and women are identified and addressed.

In recent research conducted by Oxfam and partners in 2020, findings show that mineral royalties are the single most significant source of revenue for the subnational governments of mining-affected communities. This makes mineral royalties a reliable source of revenue for addressing the challenges of women in mining-affected communities. Unfortunately, women’s participation in prioritizing needs for medium-term development planning and annual budget planning—two important levels of decision making—is still low.

Additionally, there are no legally binding regulations or guidelines that govern how district assemblies use mineral royalties. Though the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) provides guiding principles on gender-sensitive development planning and budgeting, district assemblies tend to adopt processes that do not pay attention to the gender-differentiated needs of their communities. Increasing women’s representation in decision-making at the subnational level may not occur in the short to medium term due to challenges with gender stereotypes and patriarchal systems within the communities. Therefore, regulations and guidelines tied to the MDF Act could be a more practical short-term measure to utilize mineral royalties to address the needs of women in mining communities.