Women in Mining still a vulnerable group
Due to centuries of marginalization, sidelining, and being taken as second-class citizens, women have been disadvantaged and are still a vulnerable group.
The world at large and Zimbabwe, in particular, should stop at nothing in promoting women and opening up more than equal opportunities, to protect them from vulnerability.
This is even more so in the mining industry, which to date still is a male-dominated field.
In recent years, several women have tried to break the barrier and venture into this industry for them to claim their rightful share of the national cake. However, this industry remains a hazard and a death trap to them and a lot needs to be done to protect them and encourage their participation in this important sector of the country’s economy.
Women experience gender-based violence, especially artisanal and small-scale miners. They suffer sexual harassment in all its worst forms. However, this has not deterred them or stopped them from trying to level the playing field, and proving that what men can do, women can do better.
Society plays a bigger role in demotivating young women into this sector usually by the patriarchal approach that demeans the mindset, physic and general capability of women.
Despite these challenges, women now constitute approximately fifty per cent of small-scale miners in Zimbabwe, of this 50% only 5% are young women, according to ZELA.
Miss Mines Zimbabwe founder and CEO Nomsa Mpofu, whose organization promotes women in mining, said women are at the risk of contracting HIV and Aids due to sexual abuse they encounter.
“Violence, abuse, HIV/AIDS/STIs, theft, lack of security, lack of full capacitation and support, lack of proper knowledge about mining, are some of the challenges they have to endure when they have to cater for their families,” she said.
She said policymakers, opinion leaders, and those in positions of authority should work tirelessly to assist women in mining.
This is because for women this is far beyond just making money but also, it’s a way of fighting the existential threat faced by women.
“As Miss Mines Zimbabwe we believe it is the mandate of Mining Companies and high protocol community leaders to assist Women in Mining with their Mining projects, taking their proposals to relevant offices for proper assistance, however, the attendance of Mining Conferences, Expos and Seminars would make a difference knowledge-wise and for networking purposes. Looking at long-term effects of fewer Women in Mining Empowerment, lm afraid their hardships lead to lack of family support and the most vulnerable would be the Girl Child,” said.
Zimbabwe’s Mines and Mining Development (MMMD) Minister seems to agree.
He said the Government was their corner, reiterating its pledge to ensure their participation and promote their activities.
He indicated that his ministry has put in place various arms that are meant to facilitate women’s participation and equip them.
“We have the Women in Mining Association, which is an affiliate member of the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation. We deal with this Association to promote women in mining. The ministry has opened a special interest desk that has been set up to deal with and look after the affairs of youths and women. If you take the number of women who were mining at the onset of the second republic and today, there is a significant number, individually and in terms of mining syndicates so there has been a success in that regard,” he told the Mining Zimbabwe publication.
A lot more still needs to be done as women still face a lot of challenges as they manoeuvre in this male-dominated industry.
It is however worthwhile to note that Zimbabwe’s biggest mining body is led by a woman and the Chamber of mines once had a woman as President.