The Centre for Trade Policy and Development has called for support towards women involved in mining if Zambia is to attain targets set out in the Seventh National Development Plan that seeks to not leave any one behind.
CTPD Policy Lead on Extractive and Development Natalie Mwila Kaunda said despite the involvement and contribution of women to mining, they are differently and more negatively impacted by their engagement in Artisanal and Small scale Mining in their communities.
Mrs Kaunda said this is a reflection of existing gender inequalities.
She said there is therefore need for development of policy measures that are gender inclusive and responsive.
“For this reason, CTPD calls for domestication of the Africa Mining Vision’s plan of action which calls for the harnessing of the potential of Artisanal and Small Scale Mining, this will help to improve the women’s livelihoods, stimulate entrepreneurship as well as promote local and integrated national development,” Mrs Kaunda said.
She said the CTPD also recognises the key gender-related challenge that women face in the sector among which includes limited access to capital and financing for the mining operations from mainstream financial institutions.
Mrs Kaunda also pointed out the lack of appropriate machinery and technology, limited access to information on licencing, geological-survey data mappings as well as market access as some of the challenges facing women involved in mining.
She said there is need to come up with initiatives targeting at addressing these gaps.
“A case in point is the group of women involved in Silica Mining in the town of Mufulira, due to lack of capacity to effectively negotiate for good prices, they are often duped by middlemen that buy their Silica at a cheap price and sell it for more to the end users,” she said.
“Additionally, there is need to look at the health and safety aspect for women involved in mining, due to limitations in terms of exposure to health pre cautions in the course of mining, they put their lives and those of their children at risk of contracting respiratory related diseases.”
She added, “The Centre for Trade Policy and Development therefore recommends that the ASM sector, especially the participation of women be looked at critically so as to strengthen efforts towards improving economic development opportunities in the country.”
“If properly harnessed, the sector has the potential to add significantly to our country’s GDP and Domestic Revenue Mobilization efforts. Currently, the sector remains highly unregulated and so the challenges specific to this sector are not given the specific attention they would require, as the Ministry of Mines plans to host a conference focusing on artisanal and small scale miners later in the year, there will be need to pay special consideration on the plight of women in mining.
She said another key recommendation would be to consider setting up a special taskforce that can directly looks at and document the key challenges women face in the sector, especially that the sector continues to grow even larger day by day.