Outcry over low women participation in mining

Rich soils: Jwaneng Mine is expected to anchor De Beers' plans this year PIC: DEBSWANA.COM
Rich soils: Jwaneng Mine is expected to anchor De Beers' plans this year PIC: DEBSWANA.COM

FRANCISTOWN: Government is worried about low participation of women in the mining industry, Lefoko Moagi, Minister of Minerals and Energy (MaE), said Thursday at the opening of Women in Mining (WiM) Pitso which is underway in Palapye.

The two-day conference is held under the theme, “Empowerment of Women in Mining Towards Sustainable development”.

Giving a keynote address, Moagi said the conference came at an opportune time especially when the “iron is still hot” given that in November 2022, WiM held a conference under the theme “The changing face of mining in Africa–Accelerating a Sustainable Transformation To a Highly Diverse Workforce”.

“I passionately believe that the November conference was an important precursor to this Pitso and that it has provided the necessary and sufficient conditions for us as a collective to come out of this Pitso with concrete and realistic plans to advance and promote the empowerment of women in mining towards sustainable development,” said Moagi.

He added: “The theme of this Pitso and the conference itself, is not only appropriate and timeous, but comes at a time when gender dynamics are evolving in a very significant way, a time when diversity, equity and inclusion are not only business imperatives, but are mandatory and part and parcel of a world that is increasingly becoming intolerant and contemptuous of a gender insensitive disposition; whether, at a personal, group, corporate, national or global level.” The WiM Association Botswana is part of the Southern Africa Women in Mining Chapter which is part of the African Women in Mining Association and in this regard we as ministers in these sectors meet regularly to deliberate on issues raised by the Association, Moagi noted.

“As you may well know, Botswana is a signatory to gender equality protocols and I must admit that there aren’t many women in the mining sector and those that are in senior positions are few. In fact these deficiencies are a global reality and perhaps at this juncture let me share with you some pertinent statistics to demonstrate that there is a significant burning platform which requires our collective action to realise gender balance in the mining industry,” Moagi. Sharing statistics, Moagi said: “There are almost equal numbers of men and women in the world, with women representing 49.6% of the world’s population. And yet statistics show that women make up 8–17% of the mining industry.

This means that less than a fifth of all people in the industry are female – or an average of 12.5%. (1 in 8). According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), it is notable that despite the steadfast growth of employed males, the percentage of females employed has barely changed.”

PWC did a survey that shows that mining is the worst sector for gender diversity – worse than the oil and gas industry – with just 5% of board seats held by women in the top 500 mining companies, Moagi continued.

“According to McKinsey & Company, in addition to low labour force participation, the drop-off from entry level to executive for females in mining is amongst the most dramatic across all industries; female representation within mining company C-suites sits at 13%. Amongst Standard & Poor’s (S&P 500 companies), there are only 30 female Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and not one of them comes from mining. Women are underrepresented at all levels within mining companies.

Yet opportunities remain for the industry to boost female recruitment, retention, and advancement,” a worried Moagi revealed. He added: “McKinsey launched a global survey that received more than 1,000 responses from employees in the mining sector, in 52 countries and in every continent.

Respondents included both men and women, ranging from entry-level employees through C-suite executives. Mining has one of the highest median gender pay gaps of any industry. The top reasons for leaving the industry are feeling that work is no longer intellectually challenging and having the perception that there are fewer advancement opportunities than there are for their male colleagues.

Interviews with leading women in mining highlight that women experience being side-lined, particularly in technical roles. What mining has achieved over three centuries is totally at variance with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 – achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.” Given this reality and in particular our own reality in Botswana, Moagi noted, government through his ministry is working towards creating a sustainable gender balance in the mining sector and creating more opportunities for women in jobs that have been traditionally reserved (whether by design or accident) for men. “In line with the Botswana agenda on empowerment of women, my ministry has seen it fit to facilitate, nurture and sustain the growth and development of the WiM Association Botswana so that its voice can be heard, and its interests protected.

I am aware that this association has been meeting and growing over the years. However, it has been fragmented and not holistically focused on the mining sector in its entirety,” he went on. Furthermore, I am gravely concerned that despite our efforts to grow women participation in the mining sector through issuance of prospecting licences, these are not bearing any fruit and thus constraining the growth of women; and the economy through royalties derived from such mineral exploitation, Moagi explained.

“A significant number of these licences are held by women and in these two days we will get to appreciate the challenges they face in putting them to use and tirelessly and collectively work towards finding holistic and innovative solutions. I also wish to point out that the Botswana Minerals Policy was adopted by Parliament on 31st March 2022, to solidify the government's commitment and plans to develop and manage minerals to the benefit of Batswana,” Moagi stated. In addition to this and in order to modernise our mineral legislation and to align it to policy aspirations, the Diamond Cutting Act Amendment Bill and the Precious and Semi-Precious Stones (Protection) Amendment Bill, Moagi said, were passed before Parliament on August 16, 2021. “Amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act is also in progress as the government positions itself to make Botswana a more conducive environment for mining whilst achieving its goal of being the mining destination/jurisdiction of choice. As you can see we have gathered all the different categories/affiliates of WiM in one place so that there is information sharing and collaboration for growth. Of utmost importance our aspiration is that these must all fall within the Umbrella of the Association, and affiliate with the Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM),” Moagi stated.

For those who are not aware, Moagi explained, the MaE has a structured meeting with the BCM called the Sectoral High Level consultative meeting, and it is at these meetings that all issues are discussed and resolved. “I therefore urge the association to become one integrated advocacy group, to have only one voice through this platform for the benefit of WiM and the economy at large. I must also note that for you to get to a stage where you speak with one voice you must foster an environment where constructive dissent and contradiction is allowed.

It is only through this that you can come up with solutions that are creative, holistic and innovative. Any system that does not allow constructive dissent and contradiction is bound to collapse and fail,” he urged. Moagi added: “In this regard you must also ensure that you establish robust systems of relations (traditionally called systems of control) and coordination and ensure that your leadership has the necessary cognitive complexity to deal with variety from both your transactional, internal, external and contextual environment because the extent of regulation of your affairs is heavily dependent on the requisite variety of your leadership...”

Editor's Comment
Women's bodies are not a man's playground!

In most of these cases, all this violence is done in the name of love! Love is a beautiful thing and no one who claims to love another can ever wish harm on the object of their affection let alone inflict pain upon them.A few weeks ago, the nation was shaken following the gruesome murder of two little innocent souls by their father, who after that painful act committed suicide. One of the biggest challenges that we face as a nation is that we...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up