BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) wants government and law enforcement agents to craft a clear roadmap with specific action to tackle gender-based violence in the mining sector.
In a petition launched in Bulawayo on Tuesday for women in artisanal and small-scale mining at the on-going Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI), Zela lamented discrimination and exploitation of women in mining, saying they were in breach of sections 17 and 56 of the Constitution.
“We, the women in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) are operating as informal economy players in a sector which cannot be termed “decent” compared to recognised, protected, secure, formal employment,” read the petition in part.
“As women in mining, we note that the ASM sector is a critical livelihood sector for thousands of Zimbabweans. However, there exist a cocktail of challenges that hinder realisation of decent work in the sector. Many of these originate from the common informality of ASM operations, including absence of technical and financial support for miners.”
The petition argued that if properly formalised, ASM could propel the economy, and ensure the growth of the sector, resulting in improved productivity, while creating decent jobs.
The women miners said they were concerned that the challenges posed by machete-gang violence were discouraging and hindering their full participation in mining.
Zela said government and development partners needed to tackle the root causes of mine violence.
“Government must come up with a clear roadmap with specified actions to tackle GBV (gender-based violence) in the mining sector.”
They said there should be increased access to funding for women small-scale miners, including an emergency relief fund for women in the ASM sector.
“Because of the historical and structural barriers that exist, most women do not own land thus they are not able to get loans without their partners acting as guarantors.”
Another demand by women miners was that corruption in the issuance of mining claims should be addressed.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, it is imperative that the government provides social protection to support women so that they can be able to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) and other required materials for them to meet guidelines and requirements to operate during the lockdown which they had not anticipated,” they said.
Zela said since mining was a very technical field which required funding, most women were reluctant to venture into it, thus the need for a legal framework to support them.