Monday 19 April 2021
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Women call for partnership in mining

Women in Mining Association of Namibia president Zenzi Awases said that while notable work has been done in creating conversation around gender equality in the mining industry, more can still be achieved to ensure equal partnerships between male and female players in the industry.
The geologist with 14 years’ experience in the mining industry recently spoke at a side event of the Invest in African Mining Indaba 2019 that was held in Cape Town earlier this month. The event was hosted by the Women in Mining South Africa.
The main theme of this year’s indaba was ‘Championing Africa’s sustainable economic growth’, with a highlight on driving gender diversity by increasing the number of female speakers at the conference.
Speaking to The Patriot on Tuesday afternoon, Awases emphasised that while everybody in the industry is speaking the same language regarding gender equality in not only mining, but Namibia as a whole, she believes that the gender equality conversation cannot be had without women empowerment.
“I strongly believe that women’s economic empowerment is one of the most important factors contributing to gender equality. They go hand-in-hand, one cannot go with the other.
A lot needs to be done but because we are speaking the same language we won’t have to wait another years for change,” Awases said. (sic)
She in the same breath said that while women want to be empowered, it should be made clear that they are looking for equal partnership in the industry.
Awases acknowledged that a lot has been done to address the gender equality within the mining industry, but said that progress is moving at a very slow pace.
She also added that there are several good policies and documents in place but that the implementation thereof is not satisfactory.
“We are calling for measurable implementation. What we are saying is that no woman should be promoted at the fall of man, but that we should create partnerships. We are not there to fight men, we want to work together  with the men,” Awases told The Patriot on Tuesday.
At the same time, she also said that the women who find themselves in leadership positions must understand that they will be placed under a microscope and that their actions will influence gender equality and women empowerment practices.
Achieving the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals five
Speaking at the Women in Mining South Africa event during the indaba, the geologist highlighted the United Nation’s SDG target that deals with ensuring “women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.
She also highlighted that the SDGs target to “undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws”.
She further pointed out that the SDGs called for the promotion of women empowerment through the enhancement of the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communication technology.
She in her presentation said that while the targets are great, they are audacious and that in Africa implementation is facing structural issues, encouraged by societal and cultural norms. “This is something we are experiencing in all industries, especially ours,” she said.
Pointing out that Namibia recently received the Gender is My Agenda Campaign award for top performing country by the African Gender Forum, she echoed President of the Republic of Namibia, Hage Geingob’s acceptance statement that more can be done.
She, in her presentation said that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that “the participation of women in the labour force is crucial for promoting sustaining economic growth and the gains are largest where gender gaps persist”.
She said that because of this, women should actually participate in the industries and not just be a presence, but take part in decision making.
“We know that women are still under-represented at management levels and that is where we need to be, participating in decision making,” Awases said in her presentation.
Making reference to documents such as Vision 2030, Harambee Prosperity Plan and Namibia’s 5th National Development Plan, Awases said that government supports the implementation of national policies for the purpose of empowering women at all levels and chose to promote gender policies through legislative changes. Pointing out government’s efforts, the geologist in her presentation concluded that it is becoming clear that women economic empowerment and the quest for equality, cannot be left to government alone.
She added that with the private sector, in a real sense, being the economy, it makes no sense to try and stimulate such a massive correction without having the business sector on board.
“If women are to be brought into full economic participation, especially in the formal sector, business must be at the table.
It takes a collaborative approach and there is a critical role that the private sector can play,” she said.
In order to create inclusive organisation, Awases said that equality must be created by eliminating discriminatory, structural and procedural barriers, and the removal of bias against women during recruitment as well as having interventions that are policy based and legalistic.
These policies should include affirmative action initiatives, sexual harassment guidelines and more transparent promotion documents – to name a few.
“I want to emphasise that this is not hiring or buying from women for the sake of doing so, but it is about recognising talent, capabilities and value that is too often disregarded due to gender bias.”

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