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Esther Finda Zandeh

Founder and Executive Director | Women on Mining & Extractive Sierra Leone (WoME-SL)

Esther F. Kandeh is the founder and Executive Director of Women on Mining and Extractives (WoME-SL). With an educational background in Gender Studies, Project Management, and Development Studies, and over 15 years of experience in the development sector, Esther has become a leading advocate for women's rights and environmental sustainability within the mining communities of Sierra Leone. Born in the "diamond-infested" Kono District, Esther witnessed firsthand the challenges of child labor, environmental degradation, and gender inequalities. These experiences fueled her dedication to combating economic disparity, social marginalization, and the vulnerability of women in mining communities.

Under her leadership, WoME-SL has transformed into a national women-led organization, with a focus on collaborating with these women, empowering them, and advocating for their rights within the challenging context of the mining sector. She is currently working with close to 1000 women in small groups in different mining communities across the country.

Esther is also a board member of Global Greengrants, a member of the Kimberly Process, and the founder of the Women’s Alliance on Natural Resources Governance in Sierra Leone (WANrg-SL). She actively participates in national and international platforms dedicated to natural resource governance and environmental sustainability, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to gender equality and human rights advocacy within the mining communities.

Kimberly Process Update

With over a decade of working with women in mining communities that have experienced the ills of mining activities, from uncompensated resettlements, pollution of water, uncovered abandoned pits, sexual abuse, chemical spillage making lands infertile, economic disparity, health complications from the road dust and blasting without notifying the locals.

I bring a unique perspective grounded in extensive grassroots experience and a deep understanding of the multifaceted challenges faced by women in mining communities.

My work focuses on addressing the socio-economic and environmental impacts of mining on women, advocating for their rights, and promoting sustainable practices. I aim to highlight the urgent need for equitable resource distribution, effective implementation of mining laws, and robust community engagement. By sharing real-world insights and success stories from Sierra Leone, I hope to inspire collaborative efforts towards creating responsible supply chains and fostering sustainable development in the mining sector.

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