Mining is often considered male dominated but gears are shifting to inspire more women into the sector.Organisers of the annual Women in Mining Conference said plans have been set in motion to form a new industry body – Women in Mining Botswana to lobby for robust policies and significant contribution of women in the sector.
“The main reason is that we want to promote greater participation of women, in the industry that is male dominated,” said Malebogo Marumoagae, the brains behind the conference and the association.The former Miss Botswana said more women have done exceptionally well in the industry which she considers a multi-faceted, highlighting that mining is not all about engineers and geologists.
“Lots of women are entering the industry without the sector background, let’s celebrate them and share with other women that aspire to get there,” said Marumoagae who is optimistic that women are moving and shaking barriers in the mining industry. “It not about availing opportunity (creating a bias for women) but to go out there and look for them,” said Marumoagae.
Botswana Chamber of Mines and the Women in Business have already thrown weight behind the initiative expected to set off at the Women in Mining Conference slated for end of September. In addition, Khan Corporate Law has volunteered to assist in putting together the constitution, as like minded people are expected to endorse the idea at the conference.
Marumoagae said Women in Mining Conference team has been benchmarking from South Africa, the International Women in Mining and the recently launched Women in Mining Namibia. This year’s conference is expected to attract 200 participants from the Southern African region being Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.
“These women will be from mining and exploration businesses, women entrepreneurs, researchers and analysts, safety and health specialists, women professional engineers, legislatives and policy chiefs,” said Marumoagae. Meanwhile mines, companies and organisations that have already confirmed participation include Debswana, De Beers, Morupule Mine, Boteti Mine, Shumba Coal, Tuscan Mine, Yeabo Mining, Ghubani Mining, Kutanuta Diamonds, Women in Mining South Africa and Women in Mining Namibia.
Marumoagae said building on last year’s inaugural conference momentum, the upcoming event will give specific focus to empowering women in the mining sector, identify new capacity building avenues that will help them grow in the workplace and flourish as mining entrepreneurs. She added that the conference focus was inspired by the fact that women, in the Southern African region, the mining sector has not risen to the challenge. “The majority of women in these countries are largely excluded or marginalized from participating or benefiting from the vast mineral world in the region.
They have limited access to mineral wealth in terms of equity ownership and participation and they are marginalized in terms of governance and management of the industry,” said Marumoagae. On available employment data, indications are that women are under represented both in the board of directors of mining companies and in senior positions while in entrepreneurship, women constitute a very small proportion of this sector.
“The few that are participating, are only doing small scale mining, for example gold panning, dealing in gemstones, running and selling industrial minerals such as limestone, dolomite, clay and many others.” Marumoagae bemoans that women’s contribution to mining remains insignificant in mainstream mining.