STANDING barely five feet tall, the massive 777 haul truck towering above her, Marina Bartolome is the face of a ground-breaking program to empower women and change lives in the developing world. Each day Marina and many women like her, drive 100 tonne ore trucks for OceanaGold at its Didipio gold and copper mine in the northern Philippines.
Previously subsistence housewives with little or no prospect of skilled, well-paid employment, today these women are turning the traditional male-dominated mining model on its head and forging a new and economically empowering future with OceanaGold.
In 2012 OceanaGold established the Didipio Training Academy to provide unskilled, local community members with the training and knowledge necessary to gain government certification and work in the mining sector. The academy has graduated 700 local Filipino men and women from the area surrounding the Didipio operation most of who are now employed in a variety of key operational and managerial roles at Didipio.
For Marina, one of 43 female graduates of the academy, employment with OceanaGold's Filipino mining contractor Delta has given her opportunities she'd never imagined possible. "Before Delta hired me I sold vegetables and other foods from house to house to support my children. Working with Delta has changed my life because it was heard to earn money and support my family this way, but now I have good work and am so happy and comfortable with my job.
"My family was very happy for me when I accepted the job and I hope to be an example to other women. I started as a spotter then challenged myself with training on heavy equipment and when I passed my assessment Delta entrusted me with the 100 tonne trucks, and I succeeded.
"I never thought I'd be working with a big international mining company but it's a miracle. I've got a lot of opportunities now from working at Didipio because the training is at international standard and I can now drive a vehicle and have new opportunities to drive my life."
OceanaGold's commitment to creating economic opportunities for women was recently recognized by the sixth Global CSR Awards, where it won the Gold Award for Empowerment of Women. These awards are Asia's most prestigious recognition program for corporate social responsibility (CSR). The program recognizes companies for outstanding, innovative and world-class products, services, projects and programs that demonstrate leadership and ongoing commitment to incorporating ethical values, compliance with legal requirements and respect for individuals, communities and the environment in the way they do business.
In 2014 an Empowerment of Women Award was introduced to recognize individuals or companies that have implemented programs committed to women's empowerment and welfare with immediate or long-term positive effects to gender equality, economic improvements and cultural biases.