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Women’s rights activists to expose the elephant in the room at Africa Down Under in Perth

07/09/2017: Women’s rights activists say that human rights violations wrought by Australian mining corporations upon African communities are the elephant in the room at Perth’s Africa Down Under conference this week.

Activists from community groups, including representatives from ActionAid Australia, will inflate a giant elephant emblazoned with the words “women’s rights: the elephant in the room” outside the conference doors tomorrow. The activists say the elephant will make abuses against women in African communities an unavoidable obstacle at the final day of the Africa Down Under event.

The community groups are leading the action in solidarity with South African community activist Francina Nkosi, who is currently in Perth campaigning for women’s rights to be heard at the Africa Down Under conference. Ms Nkosi says that none of the leaders at the African Down Under conference have consulted with women from mining affected communities in Africa, and that the conference must not be silent about women’s rights abuses committed in African communities by Australian mining corporations.

“In my community, the mining company did not provide any water, no sanitation, and they live in shacks. They talked about improving roads, but up to today, nothing has been done. In other communities, there’s a lot of water pollution from mines and the mining companies did not rehabilitate the land.” Nkosi said.

Ms Nkosi is in Perth to demand a meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, who is a keynote speaker at the Africa Down Under conference. Julie Bishop is yet to grant Ms Nkosi a meeting, but Ms Nkosi remains determined to have the issue of African women’s rights heard by the Minister.

“I am here representing women affected by mining - and if I get an opportunity to speak with Julie Bishop, I will have a chance to convince her to focus more on women,” Nkosi said.