By Thomas Chidamba
The Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya has said women’s participation in mining has been relegated to the periphery although they have been historically involved in the sector doing sluicing, mercury gold amalgamation and hand-milling and vending.
Speaking during the Women in Mining Conference at the Mine Entra in Bulawayo, Ms Rushwaya said the number of women participating in mining in Zimbabwe was 10%.
“The number of women participating in mining in Zimbabwe is 10% of the total number of registered and 150 000 operating illegally.
“Women’s participation has been relegated to the periphery although they have been historically involved in mining doing sluicing, mercury gold amalgamation, and hand-milling and vending,” she said.
On a positive note, Ms Rushwaya said government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) was supporting women in mining through various facilities.
“Government through RBZ unveiled 38 gold milling service centres across the country for women in mining. These were distributed by RBZ mining section by then but never fully utilised up to now.
“It is alleged that because of greed, individuals or groups benefitted from that project (are holding on to these facilities for themselves,” she said.
Ms Rushwaya said engagement is the only panacea to issues surrounding women participation in mining.
“The various challenges facing women in mining need stakeholder engagement and dialogue to put them in the mainstream economy.
“There is need to craft policies that are gender sensitive so that women fully benefit in mining activities. It is also important for women to remove the segregation stigma and be optimistic that they can do mining better than men,” she said.
Some of the challenges that affect women in mining include lack of access to resourceful land with geological information cultural barriers from participation in mining, lack of access to finance due to lack of collateral and no quota system for women in mining.