Mining sector fraught with disability discrimination: Experts

Zdamwu secretary-general Justice Chinhema

MINING companies in Zimbabwe are excluding people living with disability from employment opportunities and are yet to attain gender equality, Standardbusiness has learnt.

Speaking at a media training workshop organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) in Mutare last week, social and justice expert Dorothy Hove said there was only one mining company in the country that catered for inclusivity and gender balance.

”What came out in the conversation was that we only have one institution, one mining company here in Zimbabwe that has catered for inclusivity and gender balance where they have only one person living with disability working at the mine,” Hove said.

“Women and people living with disability continue to be underrepresented at all levels within mining companies.”

She added: “This is an indication that inclusivity within the mining sector is something that really needs to be looked at, not just beyond the extractive but I think also the policies, human resources policies, contractual obligations beyond the social corporate responsibilities of mining companies to ensure that you know there is gender balance and that gender equality is actually profiled and looked into with a little seriousness.”

Commenting on the issue, Zimbabwe Diamond Allied Minerals Workers Union (Zdamwu) secretary-general Justice Chinhema said his organisation was in the process of identifying gender focal persons at every mine.

This, he said, was being done with the view of training them on gender analysis and mainstreaming skills.

“Gender mainstreaming involves the integration of a gender perspective and dealing with gender issues in the mining industry and implementation of the policy, monitoring and evaluation of policies, regulatory measures, and spending programmes, with the view of promoting equality between women and men, at every mine and combating discrimination,” he said.

“The work of gender focal persons at every mine is to monitor, record, attend and report cases of gender discrimination in the world of work and advocating, advising, and supporting women mine workers.”

Last year, Zdamwu was involved in drafting a gender policy which sought to protect women from abuse.

“Our gender policy is now at its final stage and by identifying the gender focal persons; we are also making sure they familiarise themselves with the policy,” Chinhema said.

“Mining industry is male dominated; we are not seeing much happening in protecting the interests of women and people living with disabilities.

“This is why we always say the government must lead by example by creating policies that will then be cascaded to the industry level and at mine level.”

He said the labour Bill missed the opportunity to include a threshold on employment of women and those living with disabilities.

“We would have wanted to see this incorporated in the Labour Act before it is regulated by the collective bargaining agreement.

“A clear threshold is say 50-40% and the other 10% is left for other interested groups when employing,” Chinhema said.

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