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Women in Mining - Tsepiso Mbali

It is no surprise that the mining industry is a highly gendered male-dominated field. Mining like many fields is one where women are underrepresented. For years women have faced barriers from entering the space. Some of the challenges faced by women are the lack of hygiene facilities, health and safety, and the lack of job security for pregnant women. Over the years the presence of women in mining in South Africa and globally has increased due to the change in legislation and gender restriction. The inclusion of women at all levels of mining goes far beyond diversity quotas. Having a diverse team allows for increased innovation, creativity, and improved decision making by providing different perspectives on problems. 

In response to the challenges faced daily, mining companies such as Anglo American have responded to the underrepresentation of women by increasing the percentage of women employed in the company. A female task team, childcare facilities, women-only toilet facilities, and a Code of Good Practice for pregnancy in the workplace have been developed. Under their Women in Mining committee, Exxaro has redesigned their protective clothing to suit the female body shape. In 2017 Sibanye-Stillwater introduced a women’s leadership programme that provided short leadership development sessions. Committees such as the remuneration committee are present to address gender pay parity. The company also has a stern sexual harassment policy and an anonymous tip-off hotline to report any sexual misconduct. Throughout the industry, more women are being sworn into executive positions. These are just a few examples of how mining companies are to make their operations more inclusive of women.

There is still a great deal of work that needs to be done to transform the mining industry. As a nation, we need to find ways to dismantle the barriers that women face daily and promote a more inclusive industry. Although it is important to highlight these issues in women’s month, a month where women marched in the struggle for freedom and society, they should be recurring thoughts in our minds daily.

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