HARARE - Women legislators have lamented the low participation of women in the mining industry and demanded action to promote women in mining sector.
Biata Nyamupinga, Zanu PF MP for Goromonzi West and chairperson of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development parliamentary portfolio committee made the remarks while receiving oral evidence from the ministry of Mines on gender mainstreaming.
“We understand that there is a very low number of women involved in mining and even at the School of Mines there is a small number of women studying Mining Engineering and we are expressing our disappointment that women are not being promoted in the mining sector,” Nyamupinga said.
Hamandishe Chinyengetere, director of human resources in the ministry of Mines and Energy, said the reason behind the low number of women in mining was that women did not like to work underground.
“There is a lot of bias against women going down in mines. Some women get pregnant and are not comfortable working in the mines because it is a labour-intensive profession,” Chinyengeterere said.
“The other problem is that women are also not interested in following a career in mining, this is why we are having poor turnout of women in the mining profession.
“Statistic of women in technical positions in the ministry are a testament to the low uptake of technical professions in the mining sector. There are few female candidates from the pool from which the ministry draws its workforce,“ Chinyetengere, who was supported by Charles Tahwa, the chief government mine engineer, said.
Tahwa said at the School of Mines, there were six female students studying Geological Survey out of 32 students and nine students reading Metallurgy from 56 students, while in Mining Engineering, there are no female students in a class of 100 pupils.
However, the female MPs objected to Chinyengetere’s statement, arguing that the ministry was undermining the promotion of women.
Evelyn Masaiti-Matongo-Munzungu, an MDC MP, expressed disappointment at the failure of the ministry of Mines to uplift women.
“It is seems that the ministry has a low opinion of women as I hear from what the ministry’s officials are talking about giving as an excuse of their failure to promote women in the mining industry, which is not good enough to us, ” she said.