The era of discriminating against women in the mining industry is over as Government is putting in place policy measures to empower women miners so as to increase their contribution to the economy.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Onesimo Moyo, told delegates who attended the Women in Mining Conference, which ran concurrently with the Mine Entra Expo in Bulawayo on Wednesday, that Government was aware of various challenges facing women in the sector and that concrete steps were being taken to address them.
He said full participation in mining operations by women would assist the country to improve mineral output and ultimately the country’s revenue inflows.
“The ministry is taking women seriously and we are actually taking these considerations to ensure that women are involved. We are also looking at the Mines and Minerals Amendment Act. That Act has been very silent for a very long time on issues to do with artisan and small-scale miners,” said Moyo.
“It is our wish and our hope that working with various structures of Government we will be able to incorporate in our amendments a section that deals exclusively with artisanal and small-scale miners. And of course, women will also be particularly catered for.”
He noted that a myriad of bottlenecks were frustrating women miners and these cover funding, legal and institutional support gaps as well as lack of participation in decision making. Moyo said these challenges have been seen as a major hurdle to progress by women in Zimbabwe’s mining industry.
“Hence the interventions that we are planning to do and we need your participation. We need your interaction with the ministry so that your needs and aspirations and the challenges that you face can be addressed by the ministry,” he said.
“I assure you that Government remembers the role played by women. This ministry is implementing various policies to increase the growth of women participation,” said Moyo.
She explained that the Mines and Minerals Act allows women to prospect and register mining claims and special grants in their areas of interest.
“Such mining titles provide them access and ownership of the resources to mine, process and sell their produce. Further, he said women can form syndicates and co-operatives as there were provisions in the Act for people to team up together to form groups or co-operatives.
This, Moyo, said helps those without adequate resources to have pool capacity and increase chances of succeeding in their ventures.
“Government also has a mining industry loan fund that was established quite some time ago, which gives loans to miners, small-scale miners and the would-be miners to finance the mining value chain at various stages of their mining value chain.”
Moyo hoped more support will be channelled to women miners working in partnership with development partners. He said they were also embarking on a use-it-or-lose it policy.
“There are some people who have registered mining titles for many years. They have owned that title but no work has been done on the mining title and a lot of ground is being held by people who just enjoy having the certificate at home but not working,” he said.
“That scuttles a lot of investors who want to get into mining and that stifles also women who want to get into mining. So, it is our desire that those who are not using the titles come forward to the ministry or we will actually ask them to show cause why that title should not be transferred to another person who is interested in mining.”
The use-it-or-lose-it policy would go a long way in creating more opportunities for women as more ground would be released and made available to be taken up by various stakeholders.
Moyo also noted that the success of women in mining requires technical skills and urged women in mining to equip themselves with technical skills.
“Even if Government was to award you those mining titles, you still need some basic appreciation of what mining is all about and in that respect the school of mines is there to provide short courses to equip you to execute the titles in a highly professional manner,” he said.
“It is time women proceed beyond rhetoric by providing their gender competitiveness, courage and resilience in order to reap maximum benefits for themselves and the nation. Let us all support great participation by women in the mining industry, which has been over the years a preserve of the multi-national companies and the male domain.”