By Andwatch Mambo
The Zimbabwe Association of Women in Mining Associations (ZAWIMA) chairperson Kundai Chikonzo has called for a balanced mining community aimed at empowering women to be independent miners.
The call comes at a time when most women fear venturing into a male dominated industry.
In an interview with Zim Morning Post, ZAWIMA’s newly elected first chairperson Chikonzo voiced out her concerns for women in mining.
The chairperson said, “we cannot be blind to what is obvious women in the mining industry has grown to levels, for instance their projects create job opportunities not only for Zimbabweans but rather across the globe.
“The world has to appreciate that, part of the small-scale mining community is being dominated or run by women, and these women contribute to the economy of Zimbabwe,” said Chikonzo.
She also said “every line of business has got its own challenges and difficulties and ours in the mining sector include financial constraints, lack of machinery and other stuff.”
“As women in mining, we have numerous challenges such as financial constraints, lack of loans due to collateral and abuse from stakeholders who say that in order for me to help you, do this in return and lastly cultural diversity limits us to work with male partners” she said.
She also said that, “the journey of a woman in mining, is a looked down upon by many and this has discouraged young women to venture into the mining industry.”
“Maybe it’s because we don’t open up or share and explain to the world the challenges, we face every day and on how we started as women in mining, but I am convinced if we do so it will inspire many to help us eradicate the challenges we are facing as women.
“It is a pity that in some areas women are still being taken as weaker and unfit for the mining industry”.
She also shared and encouraged women in the ASM sector to form or join already existing associations for instance ZAWIMA.
Chikonzo said ZAWIMA has become a pillar to many people as evidenced by testimonial across Zimbabwe by different women.
“ZAWIMA, currently is working on bettering and empowering women, through providing access to opportunities and trainings as well as formalizations to operations.”
“At ZAWIMA, we fight together as women and we are going to make sure that every member benefits.
“We are in search of funding from mining investors, we are sourcing for mining equipment that will be used by all ZAWIMA members. Such equipment will be distributed to all our members equally and will be used in groups so as to ensure growth to all our members.”
Meanwhile mining environmental watchdog, Zimbabwe Lawyers for the environment (ZELA), Programs officer Nobuhle Chikuni said women face a lot of challenges, and it takes both the government and private organization to support them so as to speed up their growth from small-scale industry up to the large-scale industry.
“Women face a lot of challenges, and these include access to financing, lack of technical capacity, the ability to be able to participate in the sector from an inform point of view in terms of laws and policies that govern the sector,” Chikuni said.
She further emphasized that women, in terms of security, are left unprotected as compared to men and this has in the past years discouraged most young women with the potential and passion to invest or venture into the mining industry.
“On security issues women are generally left more vulnerable as compared to their male counterpart,” she said.
She also indicated that ZELA works with different associations, ZAWIMA included, in training small scale miners and providing an opportunity for them to learn through attending seminars and workshops.
“As ZELA, we do a lot of capacity building, working with women players in the ASM sector, empowering them in terms of the law so that they are able to comply with the laws and policies that governs the Small-scale mining community.”
ZAWIMA came into being with a mandate of promoting equal opportunities between men and women, it also advocates for the need to promote environmental sustainability.