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Women make up 50 percent of ASM workforce

By Business Reporter – Monday 9 March 2020

WOMEN – HARARE (Mining Index) – WOMEN miners account for 50 percent of the artisanal and small-scale (ASM) mining workforce in Africa, noted World Bank in its Gender Dimensions of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, with conservative estimates indicating the presence of more than eight million artisanal miners in Africa, according to UNECA and the African Union Commission.

These figures were reiterated by Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) vice president Lindi Mpofu while celebrating Women’s Day.

“It is important to note that there is a clear demonstration that women in Africa typically play a much larger role in artisanal mining as compared to large-scale mining,” she said, adding that Women’s Day gives Women In Mining an opportunity to celebrate a sector which is fast growing in Africa but still suffers from lack of recognition despite tremendous contributions by women.

Despite significant involvement and contribution of women to the ASM industry, there is clear evidence that artisanal women miners continue to be negatively impacted by their engagement in this sector.

This is usually a reflection of existing gender inequalities (division of labour and cultural norms that lower the status and authority of women relative to men), which are compounded by the social, environmental and economic pressures that exist within the industry.

She highlighted some of the challenges women artisanal mines are facing.

“As Vice President of Zimbabwe Miners Federation, I wish to highlight a number of key gender-related challenges that women continue to face in the sector. These include: critical inaccessibility of capital and financing for the mining operations from mainstream financial facilities; the lack of appropriate machinery and technology (such as the use of the very hazardous mercury for amalgamation of gold), lack of access to information on availability of mining claims, extreme difficulty in acquiring mining licences, lack of geological information on the output capacity of their mines due to a lack of finances for the employment of surveyors/geologists; lack of technical know-how of the sector due to unavailability of capacity building opportunities; lack of information on the market dynamics including tax incentives; labour-intensive and prevailing patriarchal ideologies that mining is a man’s job, thereby obstructing crucial information from trickling down to the women miners,” said Mpofu.

“It is for this reason that I call upon the Leadership of our Nation, the Ministries and Stakeholders in Mining to promote the need for a mining sector that is safe, healthy, gender inclusive, environmentally friendly and socially responsible. A call of action for the harnessing of the potential of Women ASM to improve rural livelihoods, to stimulate entrepreneurship in a socially-responsible manner, to promote local and integrated national development as well as regional cooperation,” she said.

Mpofu also took time to highlight some of the key recommendations proposed by women artisanal miners  seek reprieve and assistance from government and the private sector to assist women miners in Zimbabwe.

“Some of the key recommendations proposed by the women in artisanal and small-scale mining include, but are not limited to: the need for the provision of financing from both the Public and Private sector to make their operations profitable and commercially viable; provision of appropriate technology and machinery (particularly for gold mining) to avert the hazardous side effects of the use of mercury and cyanide; institution of a clear information dissemination framework that reaches the grassroots women when claims/concessions become available; the need for training and capacity-building initiatives targeting the women miners to equip them with technical know-how in the sector to avoid the all-too-common cases of swindling affecting women; the need for market information and the establishment of mechanisms that connect women to ready markets; and targeted sensitisation of the communities to dispel the patriarchal ideologies that pervade the sector,” she said. ENDS//

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