The African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) staff recently attended the first Women Advancing Africa Forum (WAA), a new flagship conference on women’s contributions to Africa’s development, its founders and organizers at the Graca Machel Trust reported.

Upon entering the Forum’s Dar Es Salam venue—which drew over 200 gender experts, development officials, and high-level government representatives—participants were greeted by an ALSF exhibition booth, co-organized with the World Bank and designed to promote the African Mining Legislation Atlas (AMLA).

In keeping with the WAA 2017 theme, ‘Multiply the Faces; Amplify the Voices,” the ALSF organized a breakfast information session on the morning of 10 August, during which the Facility’s representative highlighted the importance of AMLA products and training in the development of African female expertise in the mining sector. The session was co-chaired by Sheila Khama, World Bank Group Practice Manager, Energy and Extractives and Thierno Olory-Togbe, Senior Legal Counsel at the ALSF. They were supported by two alumni of the AMLA Legal Research Team, who shared their experiences and participation in the AMLA project.

“The AMLA platform is a multifaceted source of information which increases the ability of African governments and their stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue. It is an important capacity building tool for civil society organizations and the public. In this respect, the World Bank looks to working with the AfDB through the ALSF to increase the use of the AMLA platform by diverse stakeholder groups including women involved in the mining sector,” said Khama said.

AMLA is a legislation gathering, organizing, disseminating, and capacity building project established in 2013 by the World Bank’s Legal Vice Presidency. Since June 2017, the project is being fully administered and further developed by the ALSF, through a specialized unit, the AMLA Secretariat.

At the core of the AMLA project is a free online one-stop resource for Africa’s mining legal frameworks. The platform provides the mining codes and attendant regulations of over 53 African countries. It also provides country legislative comparison data using over 100 topics commonly addressed in a mining law. Moreover, the platform offers a mining and reference tool, the Guiding Template, to assist users engaged in the development, modification or simply assessment of mining legislative frameworks that fits each country’s unique context. Another distinctive feature of the project is its training programme aimed at developing local legal expertise in the continent’s mining sector.

The AMLA training modules include overall mining law issues, use of the Platform, as well as sessions on career development. The best performers are selected through a competitive process to join the Legal Research Team that populates the AMLA Platform. Since its inception, the Project has trained 70 candidates, comprising 34 women and 36 men, from 18 African universities.

As progress is made at every compass point in the African region, it is critical that women no longer occupy a secondary or marginal role in that progress. By gender mainstreaming throughout the project cycle, and by drawing attention to the experiences of women at conferences such as the 2017 WAA forum, the ALSF is helping women to take centre stage in the economic advancement of Africa.