On the 20th of June 2019 Women and Law in Southern Africa Zimbabwe (WLSA) in support of OSISA hosted an academic Symposium on Gender and Extractives under the theme “Putting Women at the Centre of Extractives”. The symposium sought to set the research agenda on gender and extractives as women are traditionally marginalized from the sector and was held at Celebration church in Harare. In attendance were Government ministries representatives, Civil Society organizations, faith-based organizations, Students from the University of Zimbabwe, Journalists, Academic researchers, policy makers and women in mining.
In her welcome remarks the WLSA board chair Dr Onai Muvingi highlighted how crucial the symposium will complete various platforms seeking to ensure there that all citizens in Zimbabwe benefits from Extraction of natural resources. “This Academic Symposium will complement dialogue and discussions on the Extractives such as the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba by providing a lens on the role gender plays in the extractives industry as women are particularly excluded. Against this background our conversations today will be anchored on putting women at the centre of extractivism to achieve gender equality in the sector and set the research agenda on gender and extractives.”, Said Dr Onai Muvingi.
During the symposium, WLSA launched an Academic research publication titled “Putting Women at the Centre of Extractives: A Compendium on Gender and Extractives”. The publication contains the results of research into gender and power relations in the mining sector, voice and agency in service delivery, gender-based violence, decision-making processes, ownership and control of land and productive resources, ensuring equitable economic and social benefits for women in mining communities, taxes and revenue sharing. All the researchers who contributed to the publication presented on the findings from their research papers.
Drawn from the presentations that were shared by the researchers, below are key issues that are hindering women from benefiting from extraction of natural resources:
Health –Women are using of mercury in gold processing which is causing cancer, birth of malformed children or offspring with decreased intelligence and numbness in the body as they have no access to alternatives.
Lack of capital – Due to poverty and marginalization, women cannot afford hefty mining business requirements such machinery, operating licenses, permits, fees and taxes.
Socio-Economic and Cultural Barriers – Extractive industries are strongly patriarchal sites and Women experience a number of challenges such as victimisation by male miners, dispossession of their claims, and various other forms of gender-based violence, resulting in many women fearing to venture into mining.
Lack of education and technical knowhow – Most women, particularly those in small-scale mining activities, are poor as they lack formal education and training in mining techniques hence they are always exploited mining transactions such as processing of their gold
Legislation and mining policies – The Mines and Minerals Act and the Gold Act among others have colonial remnants that impede the incorporation of women in mining
Below are recommendations which came out from the deliberations and various presentations that were shared.
- Develop strategies to better integrate local ASM activities, particularly those involving women, into formal systems.
- support the formation of cooperatives or women mining networks that encourages women participation, bargaining power work conditions and economic independence
- Government should make a deliberate effort to ensure that competent women are given influential leadership positions and a voice in policy-making processes,
- Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, lands and on gender should play a pivotal role in ensuring women benefit in land redistribution exercises.
- Provide gender responsive financial assistance as well as microcredit to women ASM miners and operators to improve production efficiencies and maximize financial outputs.
- Facilitate gender appropriate training and capacity building through design and the delivery of training workshops and programmes to cover technical issues, value addition, health and safety practices, financial literacy, legal capacity, bookkeeping, marketing and managerial skills.
- Support the implementation of women specific value-adding or ‘beneficiary’ strategies to maximize the potential economic opportunities for women from ASM.