Gender equality has made significant strides in recent decades, yet a critical issue persists: the exclusion of women in key decision-making processes remains a significant obstacle in mining related issues.

Addressing this issue requires a collective effort from individuals, organisations and policymakers. By dismantling systemic barriers, challenging unconscious biases and fostering inclusive environments, society can move towards a future where women play a pivotal role in shaping the decisions that impact us all and our contribution to the environment.

The Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and its women-led wing, Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) were established in December 2012. Since their inception, WAMUA’s goal has been to confront, break gender dynamics in society and change the narrative.

WAMUA has been advocating for and supporting the implementation of laws that promote gender equality, such as quotas for women in political positions. WAMUA has also encouraged the review and reform of discriminatory laws and practices that hinder women’s participation.

Izimbokodo from communities affected by mining activities continue to promote education and awareness campaigns to challenge stereotypes and biases about women’s leadership abilities and conduct training programmes on leadership skills for women at all levels.

WAMUA’s contribution to fighting against women exclusion in key decision has been through campaigns, pickets, and writing reports generated from the surveys that we have done.

We create networks and forums where women can connect, share experiences, and support each other in their leadership journeys and facilitate opportunities for women to build professional networks that can enhance their visibility and career development.

Despite WAMUA’s remarkable strides to mobilise and conscientize communities to challenge power, several invisible barriers still persist to perpetuate gender inequality.

Women’s challenges in mining affected communities

Public engagement remains one of the key challenges that women encounter in communities affected by mining activities. You often find that in public engagements women are not given a fair chance as the chairperson is usually a man, thus giving more  priority to men’s opinions and as opposed to women. This is demoralising to women.

In the workplace, mining has traditionally been characterised by a male-centric culture. This has created hostile work environments for women. Discrimination and a lack of inclusivity are not uncommon challenges for women working in mines. Women have attested to how finding jobs in mining companies has been really difficult as they are frequently humiliated and often forced into sexual transactions in order to get job posts and promotions, which are usually reserved for and held by men.