Capacitating female artisanal miners

Women make up 10% of Zimbabwe’s 535,000 artisanal and small-scale miners, according to a report from the Pact Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based development nonprofit. The obstacles they face in the industry are considerable. In 2008, WLSA started its interventions targeting women in the mining sector to promote equality and empowerment. This work has over the years seen WLSA supporting and conducting evidence based research ; support law reform processes on mining and gold sector , addressing gender based violence in the mining districts and training women miners on responsible mining .The government of Zimbabwe has targeted realization of US $12 billion by 2023 from the mining sector.

To ensure women are not left behind in August 2022, Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) conducted a two-day capacity building workshop in Kadoma (Mashonaland West) and Odzi (Manicaland) amongst relevant stakeholders in the mining sector .A total of 110 Women Artisanal Miners who are active in gold mining were trained. The participants were able to interact with officals from Ministry of Mines, Environment Management Agency and Police Victim Friendly Unit. The content covered registration of claims; gold processing; health and safety ; environmental commitments and gender based violence. WLSA through its mobile legal aid clinic also addressed various forms of gender-based violence cases. A total of 30 Women in mining areas were assisted with legal advice , counselling and drafting of court papers .

According to community voices they stated that women are subjected to abuse because they lack critical knowledge on their individual rights as well as the financial capital to operate legally.This has further exposed women miners to various forms of abuse including sexual exploitation. WLSA also observed that in Kadoma and Odzi several women had managed to register their own claims as groups popularly known as syndicates. There was 1 woman in Odzi and another in Kadoma who had invested in a Stamp Mill . Although there was artisnal mining in Marange – Chiadzwa none of the players had registration as it was a diamond restricted area.

But both communities urged the Zimbabwe republic Police to arrest perpetrators of GBV in mining areas to end the culture of impunity. Women weregenerally unsafe due to high incidences of violence , sexual abuse and robberies in the gold mining areas. The capacity strengthening meetings were well received by communities; miners and stakeholders . WLSA also supported women miners with safety clothing .

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