All over the world, mineral production and mineral supply chains are recognised for their potential to catalyse economic growth and spur development.
A growing body of evidence, however, suggests that current mining policy and practice can actually worsen gender inequalities if gender concerns are not adequately considered.
Although every site, community and context is unique, every facet of the mining sector differently impacts and benefits women and men.
These gender differences can be found at all levels, from production sites, in mining-affected communities, in local and national economies, upwards across mineral supply chains and in all institutions involved – from government offices and company boardrooms to mine sites and households.
Very few discussions feature women, with whom male miners have always shared the mining space. Discussions rarely adequately highlight women’s productive roles or specify the gendered impacts of the mining industry.
There is an invisibility problem whereby women’s contributions to the mining sector are masked by the dominant reflection of men’s roles in discussions of mining, thus erasing the participation of women.
Women in artisanal gold mining do some of the processing activities at home while attending to their children and domestic work, and so their involvement in mining sites is limited, contributing to their invisibility.
As a result of this invisibility problem, in-depth knowledge is not well-established about the challenges that women in ASM face and their potential to enable a positive livelihood development through mining.
In today’s episode of Celebrating Women In Mining, Great Dyke News reporter Jeoffrey Ncube (JN) spoke to one of the most successful women in mining Jane Lusinga (JL) to highlight some of the key bottlenecks to the potential of women not only to actively participate in the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) business but also be part of the driving force for a responsible and sustainable ASM.
JN: Can you tell us who you are?
JL: My name is Jane Lusinga, l’m a miner and I was chairlady for Women In Mining Bubi District.
Whilst l was the chairlady, our association got affiliated to ZMF and we also wrote our constitution.
I was elevated to become a regional chairperson for women in Matabeleland North province under the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, an umbrella body for all artisanal and small-scale miners associations.
JN: Can you tell us about your journey into mining?
The journey wasn’t easy at all. Actually my dad was one of the pioneers into mining. When l saw his struggles when they were using motor and piston for processing and their scales were using a corner of sour milk and matches sticks to weigh their gold, so for that l never liked mining.
Things changed when l lost my husband. l joined my father that was in 2004. l went straight to the mine so l can cash up, this was never easy seeing women panning with their babies on their backs.
l asked my father to show me the way to the local mining offices. Luckily our mining commissioner was a woman. Her name was Mrs Thusi, that was a plus for me and I then started networking with other women learning how we can grow as women because some were very successful.
Unfortunately, in 2006 during the operation “ Chirokoza Chapera” my father, my mentor, my teacher passed away and l was arrested during that operations and it was never easy for me because all operations where shut down.
When l was released, l never gave up and my dream was to continue with my father’s legacy hence l was asked to apply for a certificate from the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) but the prices were exorbitant for someone who had lost a father who was my pillar of strength. I struggled but fortunately l was able to acquire the certificate and that’s how l got into mining.
JN: What is the present scale of your mining operations and what do you mine?
I’m still a small scale miner. In 2016 l managed to get two gold claims where l am now operating by myself with the experience l got from my father.
Now l have managed to get my ball mill with a crusher and a concentrator. Unfortunately l was involved in fatal accident in 2017 that took me three years to recover but that never stopped me going with the support of associations like the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association.
The operations were disturbed by the covid-19 pandemic, otherwise my vision is improve and to engage skilled personnel in order to reach my dream as a widow.
JN: What challenges do you face as a woman miner?
Eish, as women we are surrounded by a lot that if you are not brave enough you quit .We are called by different names ,insulted by a lot of people but we are now used to it and that’s our daily bread.
We face a lot of sexual and emotional harassment from our male counterparts and the police when they come for raiding.
Our lives are under threat due to machete wielding gangs and thugs who can hunt for us even at our homes in different towns looking for the precious metal.
We are just in a situation whereby we are not safe because we have people who have been attacked by the machete wielding gangs just recently. A lot of women are living in fear of violence from men when doing their operations. We have some recent cases from Bubi whereby a machete gang tried to attack a certain mine.
We actually realized that as women we can actually do better than men .Of course we are vulnerable but there is nothing we can do because we have joined this trade not only for money but to contribute towards the development of the mining sector.
It’s hectic but we have taken mining as a job so we have to balance so that we have food on the table but it’s not easy. People don’t understand why women are doing mining, but now we have no choice. We have been insulted in many ways and we have been called different names but we are used to it
JN: What challenges are there in mining in general?
JL: We are having challenges with our machinery, in mining there is nothing you can do without proper machinery and equipment to use for the extraction of the precious metal.
And also tracing of reefs, it takes years and time to strike on them if we can get reasonable prices of the diamond drilling bits it will help us a lot as miners.
JN: How do you balance your role as a miner and a mother?
We have taken mining as a business, so we spend most of our time at our mines but nevertheless we find some time to go and see our families and they are used to it because that’s where their bread is buttered. So we spend most of our time at the mine and they are used to it.
JN: How many people are you employing?
Currently lm employing 15 people at my mines due to the pandemic some are still at their rural homes.
JN: What’s your advice to women who wants to venture into mining?
My advice is that you have to stick into your guns because mining needs your determination and focus and more focus because mining is business like any other.
A lot of people think that mining is only for men but women are there just to assist and what l know is that women can still do it….
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].