Women turn to mining to escape economic hardship – union

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By Staff Reporter

CONTINUED economic challenges being experienced in the country have forced more local women to go into mining as a means of escaping hardship.

This was said by a miners’ union in a Tuesday statement to mark the commencement of 16-Days of Activism against gender-based violence.

In his sentiments, Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) general secretary Justice Chinhema said gender-based violence has not just been limited to household squabbles but has also pervaded the economic space.

“ZDAMWU is deeply disturbed with the increase of gender-based violence in the household. The Covid-19 induced lockdowns have seen a sharp rise in gender-based violence, women have been the worst affected,” Chinhema said.

“Women have been mainly victims of GBV not only in their homes but also in their workplaces.

“The statistics paint a gloomy picture on a global scale where 40-50% of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical context or other forms of sexual harassment at work.”

Chinhema said economic challenges have driven women into mining.

“Nationally, the work of ZDAMWU has been more magnified in the face of gender-based violence. The economic challenges have seen a significant number of women venturing into mining so as to fend for their families.

“Once regarded as a male preserve, women are now seen venturing into the sector.

“The influx of women in mining has been seen mostly in the small-scale mining sector and the artisanal mining enterprise,” he said.

Chinhema said the furthest women used to go into the mining sector was through selling their wares to artisanal miners.

“However, in recent times, women are now engaging in actual mining. Women in mining are contributing significantly to the country’s GDP,” he said.

He noted that violence against women in the mining sector has been rampant.

“Violence against women in the mining sector is in many forms such as sexual harassment, physical violence or emotional violence. As a union, we are taking this opportunity to encourage employers be it in the small-scale mining sectors or large corporates to address issues of gender-based violence in the workplaces.

“It takes each and every one of us to make workstations a safe haven for women by condemning gender-based violence,” he said.