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Women in mining communities challenge inequalities

WOMEN in mining communities have stepped up to challenge their exclusion in decision making processes on environmental issues that affect them and to also ensure there is transparency and accountability in the governance of natural resources.

These women have, as part of the International Women’s Day, been celebrated for their courage and resilience by the Center for Natural Resource Governance, an organisation that seeks to defend the rights of communities affected by extractive industries.

CGRN communications and project officer Ms Simiso Mlevu said their organisation is aimed at empowering these courageous women who are being disempowered.

“CNRG is committed to empowering and capacitating women to face their struggles head-on. Women in Zimbabwe face an existential threat because of the ever-expanding extractive sector that continues to grab their land, water and forests. Their livelihood options are shrinking rapidly as land that gives them food is grabbed through unjust laws.

CNRG joins the world in celebrating courageous women from mining affected communities who are standing up to fight for their rights; to be involved in decision making processes on developmental issues that affect them and ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the governance of natural resources that are manipulated by the rich and the powerful,” she said.

She said this year’s International Women’s Day exalts women who are challenging the status quo, defying odds and fighting for gender equality.

Ms Mlevu said climate change was another area that was causing challenges for women.

“Climate change, which is fueled largely by industrialised nations, is adding to the misery of women in communities affected by extractive industries, which are also playing a significant contribution to carbon emissions and pollution of rivers, air and soils at the local level. Being custodians of food production, women are forced to work harder to produce as much food, and walk longer distances to fetch water and firewood as their forests have been enclosed,” she said.

“We are commemorating this day amid uncertainty faced by women around Batoka area near Victoria Falls, Dinde and Cross Dete areas in Hwange, Chilonga in Chiredzi, Arda Transau in Odzi and Kusena in Marange who have either been displaced or are facing imminent eviction from their ancestral land. Whilst displacements are gender blind, we note with concern that houses given to families displaced from Marange to pave way for diamond mining were handed over to men and women only benefitted by association, as wives of recipients of the houses. Thus, displacements increase the vulnerability of women.

“We commiserate with these women who are in these precarious situations and call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to take positive measures to rectify gender discrimination and imbalances resulting from past practices and policies, in line with Section 17 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Ms Mlevu said women in mining communities depend and survive on the same land and natural resources that are being exploited by large corporates, yet, as custodians of the resources they are excluded from structures of decision making which takes away their rights to own land, to work and earn a living. Sunday News

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