Hostile grabbing of women mining claims prevalent

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TINASHE MAKICHI IN BULAWAYO

The hostile grabbing of mining claims belonging to women remains prevalent in the small scale mining sector as gender based violence also continues to be perpetrated towards women across the whole mining value chain.

Women have been failing to break into the lucrative mining sector, with figures showing that they constitute just a paltry five percent of small-scale miner

Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni told the Women in Mining Conference at the Mining Entra in Bulawayo that the issue of victimisation has remained prevalent and coming up with consortiums and cooperatives will go a long way in enhancing women’s capacity in a male dominated society.

“Women should come up with consortiums and corporatives in mining to curb issues of victimisation within the male dominated mining sector. Gender based violence has also been a troublesome challenge with the mining sector where cases of women losing their claims on gender basis has been prevalent,” said Nyoni

Women comprise 11-15 percent of the estimated 50 000 small scale miners in the country. A 2017 report entitled Women’s Economic Empowerment in SSB – Recommendations for the Mining Sector, reveals that though the mining sector remains a key driver to economic growth and transformation in SubSaharan Africa, rarely has it delivered benefits in reducing poverty and improving livelihoods for the majority of the population.

Mining in Zimbabwe has been largely a men’s affair, but women are slowly making inroads in the sector. Despite the rudimentary methods still used in artisanal mining, women are now wielding picks and shovels alongside men as they scavenge for valuable minerals.

Nyoni said the issue of funding for women in mining has remained a challenge and the Ministry has to date funded 28 women mining projects across the country through the Women Development Fund.

“Access to funding has remained a challenge to most women involved in mining but the Ministry has been playing a major role in supporting women mining operations where to date we have supported 28 mining operations.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya told Business Times that the issue of victimisation of women miners along gender lines has not been as prevalent as one would want to think.

She said women miners need to stop grandstanding but rather take the initiative to take part in extensive mining.

Zimbabwe is still governed by the 1961 Mines and Mineral Act, which was enacted during the colonial era. Calls are now mounting to ensure the new mining statutes are more gender responsive.

In Africa, where most countries are endowed with rich mineral resources, women remain largely impoverished and their participation in the extractives sector is marginal. Though no countries have a fully gender-balanced approach, South Africa has been praised as a progressive example – and one Zimbabwe should examine as it creates its own comprehensive policy.

Mimosa Mining head of corporate affairs Elizabeth Nerwande said there was need to bridge the gender gap in mining and women must indeed rise and shine along the mining value chain.