To help women to better tap opportunities presented by ever-growing artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in partnership with Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF), Women in Mining Association-affiliated with Ministry of Women and Zimbabwe School of Mines are currently hosting a one week ASGM Academy for women. 55 women miners are receiving training in fundamentals of mining at Inyathi Training Centre, Bubi running from 02-08 December 2017.
By Mukasiri Sibanda
Participants were pooled from major gold producing rural districts, mainly Bubi, Gwanda, Matopo, Mberengwa and Zvishavane. Preference was given to syndicates, widows and youths. Few sponsors were added to the mix to enable women financiers to understand better the technicalities in the mining sector to sure their investments and to attract more capital.
Themed “Yihko Phela We Invest in Women: The Future of Mining” the academy is jointly supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Christian Aid Zimbabwe. The Academy is part of the big programme to support formalization of the ASGM sector through; (i) supporting ASGM association to organize and make their hundred thousand voices count for advocacy; (2) to facilitate multi-stakeholder policy dialogues to responsible, profitable and sustainable growth of ASGM that is an integral part of rural economies; and (3) to enhance linkages between large scale miners and the ASGM.
Prior to the commencement of the school of mining training programme, women met for the first two days to reflect and learn on their practice in the ASGM sector. Main challenges reflected upon include inheritance pitfalls for women miners, physical and sexual harassment by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), corruption in the award of mineral rights, limited ownership of mining titles, lack of collateral security to access various loans channelled towards the ASM sector, disruptive role of care giving and the dangers of lack of appropriate workers compensation insurance cover for ASGM sector.
The five-day School of Mines course on fundamental in mining for women covers fundamental of mining geology, introduction to mining law, introduction to mining and mineral processing, basic mine finance and planning, introduction to drilling methods, women in mining, basic safety, health and management, and lastly a practical and educational mine trip will be carried out.
According to Mr Gwaze, School of Mines’ training and operations manager, a tailored made training for women came after realising that women are unique clients. They participate freely and better if they not mixed with males. After the training, women should have gained confidence to successful venture into a male dominated ASGM sector. Further, by employing best practice in mining and mineral processing, women miners can boost their mineral yields.
Find below the women voices on the value proposition of the ASGM for Women;
“I have been mining gold since 2001, but I have never been trained on how I can do proper mining. This course will help me to better manage my gold mine. I look forward at last to enjoy rich picking from gold before I die” 62-year-old Maltilda Masia, a miner in Gwanda.
“we are running women empowerment fund and women development fund, yet our understanding of the ASGM processes was weak. Now i have appreciation of multiple permits which are legal burden to women miners. Our monitoring and evaluation of ASGM projects we are funding is no longer going to be same, we now have a better understanding of some technical details critical for successful ASGM” Murungi with Ministry of Women Affairs
“As a sponsor, I feel embolden to start and operate my own mine. Further, I will be able to assist the people I am working with on best practice to improve mining and mineral processing methods” Mrs Ncube, a sponsor in Bubi district
“It has helped me in a big way, women have so many things to say and they are so emotional, but time is limited. There are so many issues that need to be addressed by various government institutions involved in ASGM. We are going to engage mainly the Ministry of Mines and the police on issues affecting women” Blessing Hungwe, chairperson of Women in Mining Association formed in partnership with Ministry of Women. She was commenting on the first two days of the Academy which allowed women to share and learn from their diverse experiences.
“This course means a lot to me especially on communication strategies. I now understand the purpose of communication, that is to come up with a message that is easy to understand, easy to remember and a message that steers action from primary targets. It is also interesting to network with colleagues and to listen to different challenges and best practice among women” Shamiso Hozo, President Women in Rural Mining Zimbabwe.
Follow the twitter hashtag #WomenInASM for updates on the ASM Academy for Women, 02-08 December 2017. Let me conclude by sharing comments I received on twitter and on WhatsApp from colleagues.
The policy briefs are available here at https://impacttransform.org/en/research/policy-briefs/
“It would be interesting to learn how many women have come in via inheriting claims of their late husbands, and how many are full-on entrepreneurs who have come to small scale mining on their own accord and volition. And is there a difference in terms of their productivity, etc. They would seem to be quite different miners” Professor Richard Saunders