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Traditional beliefs hinder advancement of women in mining

 By Business Reporter – Tuesday 28 April 2020

WOMEN IN MINING – (Mining Index) – TRADITIONAL and cultural beliefs have been identified as an intervening variable affecting the advancement of women in mining (WIM) not only in Zimbabwe but globally.

Traditional belief systems still discourage women to venture into perceived male dominated fields, affecting the advancement of women miners.

In certain sections of the Zimbabwean society, it has been a long standing traditional practice that women do not enter into mine shafts as it is believed gold will disappear. Similarly, it is also believed if women go to the mill, they will harvest very little gold.

Women come across lucrative mining ventures but because of gender, they sometimes question their potential and let go of life changing opportunities.

“I am having a very interesting potential mining venture and then I am told I cannot join the artisanal miners because I am a woman. Is that correct?” questioned Nyaradzo Taguzu, a female gold miner.

Another female miner shared the same sentiments;

“I had the same encounter in Shamva. I went there for an assessment and the owner was blamed for allowing me into the shafts saying they will not get a belt. But remember we have big mines that employ female geologists,”

“Yes, there are beliefs if a woman gets near the mining pits, the gold belt will disappear. However, others say if women are on their menses, they must not conduct any mining activities,” said Kudzai Tuhwe a female miner operating in Chegutu.

Women miners say there should be training and lobbying of the local leadership and communities on issues of gender so that the understanding of those who are custodians of local customs and tradition is improved.

Traditional beliefs and some men still feel women venturing into mining must not go into gold shafts but must, however, contract men to do the physical work for them.

In respecting local chiefs, traditional beliefs are at times observed when starting a new mine where appeasement of traditional spirits in done before women can be allowed to start their mining operations.

In some societies, women pay an appeasement fee to the chief to be allowed to mine.

In this modern day, women have defied the odds and are participating in mining against the beliefs of the local people.

“Nothing comes on a silver platter. As women we always fight or bulldoze our way through,” said Sharai Makota, a small-scale chrome miner.

Traditional beliefs in communities of Silobela in Kwekwe and Lalapanzi in Gweru have also been viewed as barriers to women in small scale mining.

In Zambia cultural beliefs disapprove women to engage in small scale mining. Similarly, In Papua New Guinea traditional indigenous beliefs and cultural practices pose a barrier to women in small scale mining. ENDS//

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