The Midlands State University Gender Institute in partnership with the Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT) held a gender symposium on Friday the 16th of October 2020 at the University’s Gweru Main Campus. The Symposium which ran under the theme, “The Feminisation of the Mineral Value Chain” sought to explore and strengthen women’s contribution and involvement in small-scale mining activities.
In his welcoming remarks, the MSU Pro Vice-Chancellor for Business Development and Administration, Professor K H Wekwete commended the MSU Gender Institute and CCMT for collaborating and mainstreaming gender issues in the mining sector. “It is good to have such collaborations, that focus on bringing change to the mining sector. Any economic activities that exclude women, lead to conflict” he said.
Speaking during the symposium, MSU Gender Institute Director, Professor I Muzvidziwa highlighted the importance of gender equality in mining. Statistical data from collaborative research conduct by CCMT and the MSU Gender Institute shows that there are significantly more men than women involved in artisanal and small-scale mining activities. “We believe that women possess equal potential in mining to men, and it is through such research that we encourage women to overcome the stigma that mining is a male-dominated activity and be passionately involved in mining”, said Professor Muzvidziwa.
CCMT Director, Mr W Phiri, highlighted the need to adopt measures that help to curb resource-based conflicts in mining. ”As CCMT, we are concerned about exclusionary practices that lead to conflict. Conflict, in the long run, is counterproductive. It is in this light, that all stakeholders should make concerted efforts to ensure that resource-based conflicts are addressed decisively,” he said.
Presenting their research findings, Ms Gladys Balance, Ms N Maruzani from the MSU Gender Institute and Mr S Vengesayi from CCMT, outlined the need to give women an equal opportunity based on their skill and potential. “Women have capabilities to excel in mining, but as a result of the misogynist, discriminatory and masculine nature of the sector, this potential is not realised”, said Ms Balance.
In a paper titled, “Feminisation of Mining Trade Unions”, MSU Gender Institute lecturer, Mr T Mugodzwa explored the need to have a balance in trade union representation, so as to increase women participation in mining.
The symposium highlighted how women in the mining sector have been overlooked. Further research is being undertaken to establish a system that promotes gender equality in the mining sector.