Government has been urged to decentralise licensing of mines to districts so that women can also participate in mining activities.
This call comes after a realisation that few women are active in the mining sector while all applications are done in the capital.
According to a study commissioned by the Women Affairs ministry in 2016 with the support of the World Bank, only 30 percent of the artisanal gold miners in the small-scale mining sector are women, while 80 percent of the small-scale gold and gemstone claims belong to men.
Women constituted only seven percent of the total labour force in the sector.
Zanu-PF Mwenezi West legislator, Priscilla Moyo, told Parliament last week, that women face hurdles when applying for mining licenses while most have to travel long distances to register.
“If we want to apply for mining licences as women, we encounter difficulties. We come from communal lands and travel long distances to go and register. Would it not be better for you to allow licensing to be done at district level? Open offices in those districts so that we can easily access them, since we do not have sufficient resources to travel far away from the provinces,” Moyo recommended.
The legislator also inquired from the Minister of Mines and Mining Development on the procedures women need to follow in order to be awarded licences.
“We want you to clarify on how licensing is done because a lot of women fail to acquire licences, as they encounter difficulties. May you explain more on this issue,” she said.
In response, Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Winston Chitando reiterated that decentralisation is an ongoing process and local offices would soon be opened in major mining towns.
“Decentralisation is actually happening. This year we are opening offices in Hwange, Zvishavane and Gokwe. Right now as we speak, the process is underway, the positions have been approved and the recruitment is taking place. We will then roll out to other centers, but it is a very valid point,” Chitando said.
He added there were initiatives set in place by the government and urged women leadership in the mining industry to make sure more women are empowered.
“There are two initiatives, the first initiative is on the part of Government. The second initiative is on women leadership in the mining industry. We have the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, a federation of many different associations that also looks at women in mining,” Chitando said.
“It is our wish as Government to see closer working relationship between Zimbabwe Women in Mining and the Zimbabwe Miners Federation. One of the issues which we have raised is on every other Monday, during afternoons, officers from the ministry are ready to meet with the Zimbabwe Miners Federation and the Chamber of Mines. If there are any issues, it is a matter of saying ‘on this Monday, we are coming to meet and see how we can make women empowerment in the mining industry easier. ”