Amplifying voices of women artisanal and small-scale miners.
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) organized a workshop with the Women in Mining (WIM), from the 2nd to the 4th of October 2018, at Inyathi Vocational Training Center in Bubi. The workshop sought to introduce the project to the women in mining from Bubi, train and capacitate the women in mining on documentation and storytelling through use of social media platforms e.g. Twitter, Blogs. The training resonated well with the goal of empowering the women in mining and have their voice(s) be heard by collecting and amplifying voices of women artisanal and small-scale miners to send simple and clear messages which compels government and business to address specific challenges faced by women miners.
This was at the backdrop of a YouTube clip, taken 2 years ago during the Great Dyke Alternative Mining Indaba that shared the plight of women artisanal and small-scale miners in Guruve. Because of the clip, United Nations Democratic Programme (UNDP) is now building a gold mill for women miners in Guruve. Women participation in the democratic governance spaces of natural resources have increased as evidenced by the selection of Hungwe who appeared on the You Tube as the National Chairperson of Women Miner’s Association sponsored by the Ministry of Women and Gender Affairs.
The women were trained on how to communicate and document stories. Several ways of communication were discussed among them pictures, WhatsApp, twitter, blogging. Considering that ZELA has established WhatsApp groups in Manicaland, Midlands (Great Dyke including Gwanda) and Mutoko, the training aimed at amplifying voices of women artisanal small scale miners in Bubi. WhatsApp group of the women artisanal miners in Bubi will be used in disseminating issues as is cheap and readily available. One of the ways that they expressed interest in was the use of pictures. Pictures are the best way of communicating situations and are efficient as they best describe situations through visuals. However, pictures in as much they are easy to use, a consent form should be used in situations where the pictures that are to be used are of other parties. This ensures that no harm is done when communicating unfolding situations.
Regardless of the demanding nature of the mining operations both resources and time wise, and the several impediments women face to successfully operate, among them lack of mining equipment, limited direct ownership of mining titles, inheritance of mining assets, limited access to capital because of collateral insecurities, lack of adequate technical knowledge to successfully run mining activities, the women in mining from Bubi welcomed the support and efforts by ZELA to see to it that the voices of women are heard. This is echoed by one of the women who were in attendance;
“….. and the training was very timeous as it came at a time when, as women in mining in Bubi are working towards empowering each other and have our voices count. For that, we are very appreciative of the efforts that are made by stakeholders like ZELA to make the initiative a reality….”
This sentiment was shared by most of the women who were in attendance, and some even showed how eager they are for this to be sustainable than just a flight by night process. Sustainability of any intervention under whatsoever circumstance largely depends on the
“There is need for some constant refresher trainings on such issues so that they are not forgotten and lost….”
Below are the women stories excerpts that they compiled after the training;
- CHILD EXPOSURE IN THE MINING COMPOUNDS
CHILDREN born in the compounds they end up into early marriages and being exposed to drug abuse and family abuse. Girls they end up having children at a young age because the makorokoza will use money to lure them to engage in such acts. Children will also be sharing one room with their parents and this affects them psychologically. Because they are lured into engaging in sexual activities at an early age, they are then exposed to HIV AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), TB and prostitution. Boys are also exposed to drugs and alcohol. Because of poverty, communities, especially the vulnerable groups including girls and boys are exposed to effects from mining, for example, child-headed families, poor sanitation. This puts their lives on danger. Makorokoza to be recognized because they contribute largely to mining. The WIM from Bubi need claims, which they will service including erecting proper infrastructural facilities, among them ablutions, accommodation facilities.
- WOMEN AND MINING
Greetings to you all. My name is Susan (not real name), a widow who is surviving on mining. I live at Bubi District. I am having challenges at my mine and looking forward to being helped in solving it. I have owned this mine from for almost three (3) years, only to discover two (2) settlers who have already build their homesteads. I tried to talk to them, but they said, they were allocated the stands by the Agritex Officer. I consulted the councilor, Lands office, Bubi RDC and traditional leaders. It is almost three (3) years now without any solutions. As a widow, I feel I am taken advantage for. I am looking forward to getting help as this issue is affecting my well-being and surviving means. I think this issue is affecting a lot of women, hence promising to keep on sharing such stories to help women out there survive.
- WONDERS WOMEN MINERS
We are twenty-five (25) Wonders Women Miners. We are writing this letter requesting for working equipment like compressors, water pumps, explosives etc. to increase our outputs. We applied in several investors with no response. Now, the claims are taken by the state if you don’t produce. Again, we use wooden windryiers to enter the shafts. There is a risk of health hazards because we do not have toilets, no safety for explosives and mercury.
From the whole process of amplifying voices of women artisanal small scale miners capacitation training, it was encouraging and assuring the eagerness and commitment shown by the women miners. They want this be a process and not an event.