By VENERANDA LANGA
THE Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) has expressed concern over machete wars in the gold mining sector, which they said was scaring away women miners.
In a statement yesterday, Zela urged government to come up with gender-sensitive policies and mining legislation to ensure a safe environment for females in the artisanal mining sector.
“Zela is deeply concerned about the condition and status of women in general, particularly in the mining sector, where the #StopMacheteKillings is a sad reminder of the rampant violence against women and girls in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector,” the Zela statement read.
“The organisation notes that women and girls continue to be excluded in environmental decision-making associated with the use of natural resources, where women are reeling from the negative impacts of large-scale investments in mining and extractive industries.”
They said some of the examples of effects of mining activities on women and girls included environmental impacts like water pollution, for example, along Deka in the Hwange coal mining area, Save in the Manicaland’s diamond mining area and Mazowe River in the Mazowe gold mining area where there is loss of fisheries and livelihoods, as well as in Mutoko where black granite mining is affecting market gardening.
“At a time when oil is being explored, considering its devastating impacts on the environment as witnessed in other oil-rich countries in Africa like Nigeria’s Ogoni community, Zela, thus, calls for robust gender impact assessments to be conducted before the decision to extract natural resources is made and continuous gender impact monitoring conducted during the course of mining and extractive projects.”
Zela also called for gender parity in the workplace at mining companies at all levels.
“Although the Constitution recognises property and land rights, we have noted that most women have limited access to land in Zimbabwe.
“Most women own land through their spouses and as such their access to land is tied up to the spouse.
“This, in all manner and circumstances, is not in tandem with the founding objective and values of the supreme law of the land. Further, the same flies on the face of international norms and standards that Zimbabwe subscribes to. We, therefore, call upon government to adopt strategies and policies that increase women’s access to land,” they said.
Zela also called for tax justice and progressive reforms in the mining sector to ensure government joins the extractive industries transparency initiative to enhance transparency and accountability in the mining sector.