Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE era of discriminating against women in the mining industry is over as Government is putting in place policy measures to empower women miners so as to increase their contribution to the economy.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Mr Onesimo Moyo, told delegates who attended the Women in Mining Conference, which ran concurrently with the Mine Entra expo in Bulawayo yesterday, that Government was aware of various challenges facing women in the sector and that concrete steps were being taken to address them.
He said full participation in mining operations by women would assist the country to improve mineral output and ultimately the country’s revenue inflows.
“The ministry is taking women seriously and we are actually taking these considerations to ensure that women are involved. We are also looking at the Mines and Minerals Amendment Act. That Act has been very silent for a very long time on issues to do with artisanal and small-scale miners,” said Mr Moyo.
“It is our wish and our hope that working with various structures of Government we will be able to incorporate in our amendments a section that deals exclusively with artisanal and small-scale miners. And of course, women will also be particularly catered for.”
Mr Moyo noted that a myriad of bottlenecks were frustrating women miners and these cover funding, legal and institutional support gaps as well as lack of participation in decision making.
He said the challenges have been seen as major hurdles for women in Zimbabwe’s mining industry.
“The interventions that we are planning to do need your participation. We need your interaction with the ministry so that your needs and aspirations as well as the challenges that you face can be addressed by the ministry,” he said.
Mr Moyo said Government recognised the role played by women and the ministry was therefore implementing various policies to increase the growth of their participation in mining.
He explained that the Mines and Minerals Act allows women to prospect and register mining claims and special grants in their areas of interest.
Such mining titles provide them access and ownership of the resources to mine, process and sell their produce.
Mr Moyo said women can form syndicates and co-operatives because there were provisions in the Act for people to team up together to form groups or co-operatives.
This, he said, helps those without adequate resources to pool resources together to enhance their capacity.
“Government also has a mining industry loan fund that was established quite some time ago, which gives loans to small-scale miners and the would-be miners to finance the mining value chain at various stages of their mining operations”. — @okazunga.