By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Statistics of women in mining being given by the Environmental Management Authority are very worrying, Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT) report has revealed.
The report Exploring The Challenges, Opportunities and Experiences of Women in Mining in Zvishavane district of the Midlands province launched Saturday at Midlands State University (MSU).
“Chirumhanzu has only 1 formal woman miner out of 20 registered miners, Gokwe North has only 1 registered woman miner out of 300 registered formal miners while Gokwe South has only 1 registered formal miner,” said the report.
“Gweru district has 1 formally registered women miner, 800 informal miners and 75 registered miners, Kwekwe has 5 registered women miners out of 500 and there are 1100 women illegal miners out of 6000 in the district.”
“Mberengwa has 20 registered women miners, 900 registered men miners and 3500 illegal miners, Shurugwi has 3400 registered mines of which 3 belong to women.”
Zimbabwe Gender Commission chief executive officer Virginia Muwanigwa said an inquiry will soon be instituted to find out more about the gender inequalities in the mining sector.
“As a Gender Commission, we need to commission our own inquiry into gender inequalities in mining,” Muwanigwa said.
“We need to have women in decision making spaces in the mining sector.
“I am happy that CCMT is leading discussions on gender equality in the sector.”
Glady Balance from the Gender Institute of the Midlands State University said there is more that women can do in the sector.
“Women have capabilities to excel in mining, but as a result of the misogynist, discriminatory and masculine nature of the sector, this potential is not realized,” Balance said.
The report also said that both men and women prefer to belong to associations.
However, findings from this research demonstrate that there were very few benefits, if any, that the associations are providing to small scale miners, particularly women small scale miners.
This is regardless of the registration fees (US$20) and monthly subscription fees (US$3) they pay to the associations.
In Zvishavane, there are two associations that represent small scale miners; that is, the Zvishavane Mberengwa Miners Association and the Zvishavane Women Miners Association.
It is interesting to note that women miners in Zvishavane are members of both associations.
In fact, the Zvishavane Women Miners Association is an offshoot of the Zvishavane Mberengwa Miners Association, formed in 2018 by women who felt that there is a need for an association which represents specific interests of women.
According to the leadership of the Zvishavane Mberengwa Miners Association, the Association has 100 confirmed members and up to 150 women who regularly participate in its activities.
The Association provides technical support to women miners such as knowledge on timbering, setting up tunnels, how to handle chemicals and representation.