Right tools critical for ASM women economic empowerment.
By Ndanatsiwa Tagwireyi
Enhancing gender equity and equality, capacitation of women and favorable mining laws and policies are critical in women’s economic empowerment in the extractive sector, Zvishavane based small scale miner Sophia Takuva has said.
This has come at a time when Zimbabwe has joined rest of the world in celebrating women in the month of March, under the theme ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.’ In Zimbabwe, it is generally argued that mining is a masculine endeavor, making mining by men more acceptable at both societal, institutional and policy levels (Women and Law in Southern Africa ,2019).
Sophia Takuva is a Midlands based small scale miner, a member of the Zvishavane Miners Association and the Director of AWOME; a women led organization. She is one of the women in the extractive sector whose standpoint is that enhancing gender equity and equality within the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) sector can spur social transformation, achieve poverty reduction, inclusive growth and sustainable development.
In an interview with the Mining Vision Magazine, Sophia says she envisions a mining sector with inclusive and favorable mining laws and policies which allow women to grow their mining business and build other sustainable ventures.
“Women still face challenges on accessing mineral rights and finances to invest in their mining business and discrimination, disputes on double allocation of mining claims, violence especially the machete gangs (attacking women mostly),” Takuva said
The Midlands based miner is also of the view that capacity building is needed among women miners to spearhead transformation and equality for the sustainable extraction of mineral resources in the country. She is aware of the fact that a few women have managed to own mining claims although there has been an increase in the number of women coming into mining.
“There is so much work to be done on women empowerment in mining; women need to be capacitated; they still face challenges on accessing mineral rights and finances to invest in their mining business,” AWOME director, pinpointed citing that: “The true empowerment of women can only be realized when women own their own land, that is registered mining claims, own equipment and are able to invest and grow their mining business.”
The bottom line according to Takuva is the pressing need to capacitate and enhance the quality of life for these women miners, and to integrate gender equity and equality principles into the mining sector as a whole.
For the record, Takuva is among the small scale miners championing women empowerment through working with women miners and women in mining communities, facilitating dialogue with stakeholders to find solutions to the challenges that women face and promoting women inclusion in the mining sector through educative programs on sustainable mining practices, environmental conservation, business, women’s rights, leadership and decision making.
To those who want to venture into the mining, her thoughts are that: “Learn the mining business before venturing in the sector, investigate, gather information on the type of mineral you want to mine, the inputs and equipment needed for extraction, the processing required, the market and above all do budget for the projects/business.”
She also advised women miners to learn from mistakes, work hard, and have the determination to keep on moving despite some of the downside risks associated with mining various minerals in Zimbabwe
“I failed so many times but I didn’t dwell on the failure; I learnt through the mistakes, and sought knowledge about mining when I joined mining associations to get knowledge and experience about sustainable mining practices,” the courageous miner told The Mining Vision Magazine.
“I believe in working with my hands, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! Mining is not for the feint hearted; it is business, sometimes you encounter losses, sometimes the harvest is great the path isn’t always easy or exactly clear.