Mineral Resources and Energy Deputy Minister, Dr Nobuhle Nkabane, says the department is drafting a women in mining strategy, which is expected to level the playing field between men and women in the industry.
Nkabane made the announcement during the Women in Mining Conference on Wednesday.
The conference aims to give women in the mining industry a platform to share information, experiences and opportunities in the sector.
“I want to assure you that the department is currently drafting the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Strategy for the Mining and Minerals Sector. I also want to assure you that gender mainstreaming, and economic empowerment and transformation will become a reality in the mining and energy sectors of our country,” Nkabane said.
The Deputy Minister acknowledged that the “exclusion of women and inequality in the mining and mineral industry” remains a challenge in the male-dominated sector.
“Women are excluded in employment, business, and at community level.
“A series of studies done by the Commission for Gender Equality on the assessment of some of the South African mining companies on progress made towards gender transformation and mainstreaming, revealed that the mining industry has clearly struggled to promote gender transformation.”
Added to that, women also encounter gender-based violence in the workplace.
“Women in mining experience emotional, physical, sexual violence and harassment, especially those who work closely with men in isolated spaces or underground.
According to Nkabane, in 2018, at least 54 000 women were working in the industry – representing only 12% of the industry workforce.
She said the department’s Women Diggers programme aims to drive these numbers up by offering training and permits for new entrants into the industry.
“The programme aims to increase the number of women with requisite skills in the mining sector, especially small-scale mining, to increase representation of women in the mainstream economy, and in the mineral and mining sector.
“To date, 22 women completed their theoretical training; 15 have completed their practical training, and the department is in the process of assisting them to apply for mining permits.
"The [department also] set aside funding to support for women to secure mining permits by assisting with the application process. Once the pilot is successful, the programme will be implemented nationally,” she said.
Although government is putting policies and regulations in place to transform the industry, women already in the industry can also contribute to balancing the gender scales.
“The government of South Africa has good intentions of transforming the country and as such, it has initiated interventions that [seek] to address exclusion and discrimination of women in the mining and minerals workplace.
“We need to make sure that we improve from the statistics [of women in leadership positions]. It is us [women] that must organise, raise our voices and fight our struggles,” Nkabane said.
Source: South African Government News Agency