PACIFIC Islands need to follow the international lead and assess the disproportionate impacts mining has on females when considering potential mining operations.
With more Pacific Island communities opening up their lands to mining operations, the concerns of the female gender are often neglected, but this should not be the case.
"I think mining has the potential to negatively impact them disproportionately because they are without any influence in how mining projects operate," said University of Queensland Centre for Social Responsibility mining researcher Julia Keenan.
Ms Keenan specialises in researching the relationship between mining and local communities, with particular focus on agreement-making with indigenous peoples, gender and community development, and methodologies for analysing and improving resource companies' social performance.
Ms Keenan told journalists studying with the University of Queensland's CSRM centre that mining not only had environmental impacts but socio-economic impacts as well, particularly for women.
"Where women aren't consulted or their needs and their rights and their interests are not acknowledged, they become very vulnerable to losing access to resources they rely on.
"They also risk having their social network disrupted and not being able to access any of the positive benefits of mining with many mine jobs going to skilled fly-in fly-out workers."
Ms Keenan said more attention needed to be paid to the plight of women in the community.
"In a lot of Pacific countries where mining does occur, there is often an influx of a transient male workforce which often has very negative impacts on women.
"This is because cultural changes as well as an increase in prostitution and often the impacts of STIs, gender-based violence, alcohol and drugs are disproportionately high in women.
"It's just a consistent theme — the impacts of mining are often only looked at the community-wide perspective and the differences between men's and women's experiences aren't understood."
But Ms Keenan acknowledged the presence of strong women leaders in Pacific communities, adding that men were an essential part of the conversation.
"I think that sometimes the language of human rights and equality and women's rights can be seen as excluding them, but men are an essential part of supporting women's empowerment," she said.