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International Day of Woman in Mining celebrated

11th August 2023

By: Halima Frost

Senior Writer

     

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Minerals Council South Africa hosted a breakfast celebrating the International Day of Women in Mining on June 15, at The Country Club Johannesburg in Rosebank, Gauteng, themed Equity in Mining is Everyone’s Responsibility.

Minerals Council president Nolitha Fakude, who opened the breakfast, applauded the progress the sector had already made to ensure gender diversity and equality.

However, she did suggest that reflection was needed on the journey that still lay ahead.

“The mining sector is a historically male-dominated one and to this day we need to continue to push the agenda in an industry that employs 72 000 women out of a workforce of 475 000,” she said.

She stressed that education was key to empowerment of women and communities, adding that the mining sector spent more than R5-billion on human resources development in 2022, with a further R1.7-billion paid through the skills development levy.

Additionally, the mining sector is a driver of transformation and social upliftment in the current troubled local economy, where, on average, one-in-three adults cannot find a job.

“We need to come up with actionable, sustainable initiatives that make an impact to ensure we continue #MakingMiningMatter across our communities,” she said.

Fakude pointed out that through the South African mining sector’s social and labour plans, which underpinned mining rights, the mining sector could be the change it wished to see in the world.

“We have the potential to deliver maximum impact by consolidating our efforts, not only between mining companies, but with labour, communities, nongovernmental organisations, academia, and government structures at local and national levels,” said Fakude.

In relation to the academic aspect, she referenced a study by The International Institute for Sustainable Development released in 2022, which found more women and girls were entering, and completing community colleges and technical and vocational education and training college.

Additionally, the increase was noted in university studies in technical and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-based learning streams, with more female applicants than males.

The research, titled “Gendered Analysis of Employment and Skills in the Large-Scale Mining Sector in South Africa”, noted that although there were more women and girls entering these streams, the entrance or retention of women in the mining industry was low.

The Way Forward

“For the sake of a more just, equitable and sustainable society, our work must extend beyond our employees and be felt in our host communities, our suppliers and service providers,” said Fakude.

“Gender equality is a human right and a business imperative,” she stressed, adding that “… there are no longer any debates about the need to transform, nor the urgency to implement policies and procedures, that will move the needle significantly towards a fully transformed mining industry”.

The event saw financial provider National Empowerment Fund divisional executive: venture capital and corporate finance Zama Khanyile address the attendees as the keynote speaker.

“The mining industry remains critical to the country's resolve to bring about employment-creating growth,” she highlighted.

Khanyile added that she believed the conversation about women in mining should not be limited to one day only, and that these were conversations that women should not have among themselves.

“We need supportive men as our allies to create opportunities in the boardroom, and in business as well,” she stressed.

The International Day of Women in Mining event also played host to panel discussions that offered a strategic outlook on the topic of equity being everyone’s responsibility, as well as a discussion about achievements, challenges and opportunities in the sector.

Minerals Council South Africa chief economist Henk Langenhoven offered a summary of the event as well as some key takeaways for the attendees and participants.

Fakude concluded by saying that equity in mining was everyone’s responsibility and it was a responsibility Minerals Council South Africa took seriously.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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