A lot of women in mining are prohibited from pit areas, and may be kept in the dark about the quantity of actual minerals extracted. The lack of women’s participation in the critical stages of mining gives men the leverage to exercise control over financial matters.
Unable to see any meaningful financial inflow, women end up gaining little from their work. In cases where women participate in pit areas and do the actual work, they still lose control over any financial or other business-related matters to men.
This is due to social norms in most developing countries, where women are considered as subordinate to men with little independence. It is believed that women with independence and control over financial matters are mostly successful.
In such cases, women own mineral rights and successfully manage a mining business.
Enabling better access to mining equipment and technology could play a significant role in promoting efficient production and greater return, while drastically improving health and safety conditions of women in artisanal and small scale mining operations. Access to finance and promoting a more equitable and gender-sensitive provision of equipment and equipment loans are also needed.
As seen in other countries, governments partner with development organizations like the World Bank and the private sector (including large-scale mining companies) to provide equipment for women miners.
Female miners in Zimbabwe say that most women, unfortunately, miss out either because of a lack of information or gender discrimination.
As such, broader collaborative avenues need to be pursued that bring together government, development partners, private sector and civil society organizations in an integrated programme to enable access to equipment and technology through setting up loan and grant facilities with preferential treatment for women.
In today’s installment of Celebrating Women in Mining, Great Dyke News 24 reporter Jeoffrey Ncube (JN) speaks to Rudo Muzamani (RM) a mining equipment supplier who speaks about her experience of working with women for the past twenty years.
JN: Can you tell us who you are?
RM: My name is Rudo Sarah Muzamani. I am currently employed by Appropriate Technology Africa (ATA), one of the major suppliers of mining equipment in Zimbabwe, as a Sales Manager/Technical Sales Representative for 20 years now.
JN: How did you get into the business of supplying mining equipment?
RM: I joined ATA as a Technical Sales Representative after working for 5 years for a non-governmental organisation that supported people to start their own businesses and it was easy for me to sell mining equipment to small-scale miners venturing into mining businesses. Basically, I got into supplying mining equipment as an employment opportunity yet it has created more opportunities from the exposure and expertise.
JN: The mining sector is male-dominated, how have you managed to penetrate it?
RM: At first, it was not so easy with mining activities mostly labelled as masculine, legitimizing activities by men because of the mechanized and capitalized operations and equipment used, but l managed to penetrate through acquiring information from my customers as well as visiting some mines. Experience that l gained with time was my best teacher and my willingness to learn from the miners themselves enhanced my knowledge and skills of the mining industry.
JN: What are the challenges you face as a woman sales manager for mining equipment?
RM: Most people are willing to mine with all paperwork in place but they lack the financial resources required to start the mining businesses. We have built a good relationship with financial sectors like Fidelity Printers and Refineries (FPR) for its Gold Development Initiative Funds (GDIF) offering loans to miners but some miners still fail to meet requirements such as collateral.
Sales leadership in mining supplies has a gender gap problem if you are a woman despite meeting the sales quotas even better than men.
Sometimes it was heartbreaking when my fellow women would not believe in me but l excelled through the competence that l gained over time. My qualifications including a Bachelor’s and Masters in Business Administration degree significantly impacted on my competence and confidence.
JN: Can you share with us your experience of working with women miners for the past 20 years?
RM: The challenges of gender discrimination are mainly that mining equipment sales are portrayed to be masculine jobs considering the selling that is hinged on technology.
Therefore most customers would believe the technical specifications from men, not women. In my case, l am the sales manager and with my experience and expertise l am the one who trains my male counterparts but customers still believe in men and not me as a woman.
When it comes to women in the mining sector, our potential sales are affected as the women shun joining the sector owing to the myths and rituals associated with mining activities. It’s said that if women get into the mining shafts they cause misfortunes.
From my research, some women who own mines do not participate physically in the activities despite taking all the precautions and measures to be safe because of these myths and cultural beliefs. They employ and supervise rather than doing the manual work themselves.
JN: Have you done any initiatives to support women in the mining sector?
RM: We have approached Fidelity Printers and Refiners with its Gold Development Initiative Fund which was created by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe ( RBZ) as part of its initiatives to enhance economic productivity through promotion and development of the gold mining industry in Zimbabwe.
This initiative encouraged a lot of women miners through the provision of mining finances towards the acquisition of gold mining plants and equipment. There are a lot more financial sectors that we approached to assist those women that were in desperation for funds to start mining businesses.
Although we do not offer credit facilities, we introduced lay bye terms for some customers who cannot afford cash payments for mining machinery that we sell which has helped a lot of miners especially for starter packs that include the mining compressors, jack hammers, accessories, hammer mills, concentrators, ball mills, slurry pumps, hoists, and generators.
JN: What does the future hold for women in the mining sector?
RM: Minerals have mostly a ready market as they earn the much-needed foreign currency in Zimbabwe, making the future of women in the mining sector appealing. Women need to embrace the great opportunity in mining businesses with all optimism for being an important source of income, economic growth, and employment creation.
JN: What’s your word of advice for women intending to join the mining sector?
RM: With equal opportunities opening in the mining sector as well as substantial financial gains, women should be encouraged to get into it. It takes a great deal of courage to be in this male-dominated industry and some women have reached desired milestones through mining.
Like any other business, the mining sector has its own challenges yet it is one of the most rewarding. Starting a successful mining business does not require academic qualifications but your purpose-driven tenacity, hardwork, dedication and determination.
Success in mining is connected with action to not only earn you income but increase the economic growth and development of our country. As women, we have the power to create, nurture and transform, let’s create value for our country through mining businesses and to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable development.
Our world would mean nothing without us women. Every life begins with a woman. We celebrate you Women in Mining everyday for changing my life and the world. I salute you and l thank you for this opportunity to share my mining story.
If you are a woman and you would like to share your journey in mining and agriculture get in touch with Jeoffrey Ncube on 0776302592.Email [email protected].