By Business Reporter – Monday 8 March 2021
WOMENS MONTH – PROFILES – (Mining Index) – FROM an artisanal miner, climbing to the top echelons of power, becoming the first small scale female miner in Zimbabwe to be given the platform to speak to mining executives of large scale mines, sharing how women can add value in the mining sector, meet Blessing Hungwe.
What are you mining and where?
I used to mine chrome but stopped three years ago due chrome pricing challenges. I did not despair, I took another turn, ventured into gemstones, but again, I hit another wall as I struggled to find a market for it. I tried to mine copper and there were bottlenecks on the way. For now, I mine gold in Mashonaland Province because it is the easiest to sale.
Which of the given categories do you fit in?
I a miner.
What have you done to improve women in mining?
Mainly confidence. I have learned to tell my story to inspire women to venture into mining, make savings and diversify.
What challenges are you facing?
There are many claim ownership disputes in artisanal and small gold mining.
Marred by politics and allegations of corruption, this forced me to quit one of the national organizations to protect my name.
As a woman miner, and a divorcee, some people label me a prostitute and because we deal a lot with men, sexual harassment is a key challenge.
What is your success story?
As a miner, I am now able to provide for my family and my relatives. I have managed to send my son to a prestigious university in South Africa because of my mining ventures.
I am no longer dependent on mining alone, I have made savings, invested in agriculture and manufacturing.
I have also invested into steel fabricators and iron sheets manufacturing. As a small scale miner, I know it is short lived because of no exploration so I invest every cent I get.
I have also managed to lead the struggle for women in the artisanal and small-scale miners, from being a leader at local, to provincial, national and regional level.
In Guruve, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is constructing a women service center to promote women miners because of compelling stories we are telling on challenges faced by women.
What pushed you to be biased towards working with women miners?
I have faced serious challenges of gender inequalities in my life. When I got divorced, I found myself cut off from the income that we used to get from my husband’s work. My work was not paid. I had no savings at all to start a business. I ventured into artisanal and small-scale mining and now I can take care of my children and immediate relatives. I understand women struggles with gender injustices and this pushes me hard to help women miners.
What is your message of inspiration to that woman who wants to get in the mining sector?
Life is not easy for women in Zimbabwe with limited employment opportunities. However, there are silver linings.
Artisanal and small-scale mining offers great income generation and employment creation opportunities. There are plenty of stories of people who made it in a day with gold mining. ENDS// www.miningindex.co.zw
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