MUTARE- Women inclusion in the mining sector value chain hinges on legal reforms to promote decent work, equality, and gender mainstreaming, says the Zimbabwe Gender Commission.
ZGC, commissioner Naome Chimbetete decried the lack of involvement of women in mining as an indictment on policymakers, as she called for progressive reforms to promote equal opportunities for participation.
Chimbetete was speaking during a Women’s Symposium organized by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA).
She said women are denied an equal opportunity due to a lack of finances or resources and access to loans.
She said this contextualizes key statistics of the under-representation of women as noted by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development that only 9-15 percent of mining titles are held by women.
“Women involvement in the mining sector is limited in both the formal and informal Statistics from the sector show that 85 and 82 percent of players in the formal mining and informal mining respectively are men, with women relegated to the peripheries of the value chain.
“Lack of consultation by government and even companies are worsening this situation and as a commission, we are pushing for the recognition of women across all sectors.
“Underrepresentation of women in not only in mining, even across the board women are continuously overlooked for decision-making positions,” she said.
Chimbetete said the regulatory frameworks and policies must be robust to ensure responsiveness to barriers like the burden of unpaid work, other roles that impact the participation of women.
The Platform on Gender and Extractives, in a declaration of deliberations, noted that women in the extractive industry are a ‘heterogeneous group with varying interests requiring different interventions appropriate to their needs.’
ZELA said the government must ensure it brings finality to the formalization of ASM, where women are also participating informally without any legal recognition or participation.
ZELA called for a greater responsibility to protect the vulnerable, the International Labour Organization estimates that 1.6 billion informal workers, or nearly half the global workforce face an uncertain future.
ILO states that livelihoods could be destroyed due to the continued decline in working hours brought on by lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 and women will be disproportionately impacted.
“Delays in formalizing and regularizing Artisanal miners continue to affect the sector players whose contribution to the growth and development of Zimbabwe’s economy cannot be overemphasized.
“Provide continuous oversight and monitoring of the activities of mining companies. Support women in mining with the requisite tools to resuscitate their businesses, failure of which could result in some of them failing to continue with their mining operations, thus, plunging them deep into poverty,” said ZELA.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in business losses and some women are being compelled to find alternatives to recapitalize their businesses.”
The government was also urged to utilize redress commissions like the Gender Commission to monitor and protect women against the violation of environmental, economic, social, and cultural rights.
“The government through the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) should monitor the violation of environmental, economic, social and cultural rights of women affected by mining activities in their communities.
“The Commission should investigate reports and institute the necessary processes that ensure communities get access to remedy,” said ZELA