By Takudzwa Mahove
Women in the mining sector say they continue to be abused by their male counterparts in the sector and they are calling on government to put measures in place to protect them from abuse in the male dominated sector. Women that have been brave enough to try their luck in the sector say they face sexual abuse, physical abuse as well as discrimination and this has reduced their ability to make a telling contribution in the sector and has even seen some women walk away.
Amakhosikazi Media spoke to a number of women who attended belated International Women's Day commemorations hosted by Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe and they raised numerous concerns on the abuses. Many told stories of how they have had to look for new claims after the ones they previously owned are taken over by men or illegally invaded by the so called “mashurugwi”
Anita Murengi a woman miner explained her ordeal at the earlier mentioned event. “ndiri muprocess yekugadzira mapepa angu ndakawana muclaim mangu makutoshandiwa, vanhu vacho vakutoita mari ini ndisina chandowana. Madzimai tofanira kushinga nekuti zvakaoma mumaoffice umu.” (When I was in the process of getting proper paperwork for my claim, some men were already working on that claim and getting money but they did not pay a single cent to me). Women at the meeting concurred and revealed that this is a common occurrence and they hope government will look into it and act urgently.
“Some women have lost property to robbers with the police not doing much to recover the property even though the culprits are known” says Mberengwa Women in Mining vice Chairperson Beauty Hove. She also said women feel betrayed by law enforcement agents in addressing claim ownership wrangles between them and their male counterparts.
Ms Erina Machokoto, a woman miner from Mberengwa, urged women to speak out and let the world know when they have been abused. “Zvinhu zvakawandisa zvinonetsa madzimai asi madzimai haataure. Ikozvino kunesocial media, ngatidocumente zvinotinetsa tinzwikwe.” (women face a number of challenges but they never speak out. Let’s document our challenges and make use of the many social media platforms). Campaigns on social media have had a huge impact internationally and many women have had their abusers brought to book after speaking out.
The ministry of Mines and Mining development in the Midlands has previously said it is committed to working together with women in the mining sector to ensure they can contribute to the national output.
“Women, youth and the disabled can contribute immensely to the mineral output of the province and they should never be sidelined” said Midlands Provincial Mines Director Nelson Munyanduri
The sector has made huge strides to empower women and ensure they become equal participants in a sector that is seen as being an anchor of the national economy. In 2018 the Zimbabwe Miners Federation elected a woman President, Henrietta Rushwaya and this was viewed as a victory for women and a huge step towards recognition in the sector. What is yet to be seen 6 months on is whether she will open the lid on the numerous cases of abuses against women and ensure that perpetrators are brought to book.