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Gender justice in mining industry

Women in mining are subjected to numerous challenges not least of which are violence and abuse in the workplace and at home.

An ongoing initiative of surface mining industry association, ASPASA, continues to address these issues as they arise and is encouraging its members to establish platforms that make it easier for employees to voice their concerns and experiences.

During the association’s latest Gender Justice – Women in Mining Workshop, ASPASA Chairperson of the workshop, Letitia van den Berg, explained that setting up platforms to address gender issues should be regarded as a positive step towards improving the workplace.

Psychological safety

“It is also important to note that the initiatives should not be run in isolation of management, as psychological safety doesn’t mean a person only feels safe, but rather that they should feel safe to voice an opinion.” Guest speaker, Marinda Hawthorn of Leadership 365, underlined the fact that almost daily women across the industry report incidents of physical assault, verbal abuse, being asked to trade sexual favours for employment or other benefits or being placed in more junior positions with less pay than their male counterparts.

Not surprisingly many of these women can be left traumatised or insecure and programs like the company’s Women’s Renaissance Life Transforming Coaching provides women with the tools to overcome past trauma and to empower themselves and transcend the status quo and fulfil their actual worth.

Other interesting topics included talks by Bothu Khumalo of PPE supplier, Kago Workwear, which provides PPE garments that are specifically for women. The workwear is designed for women’s bodies and their specific needs to make them comfortable and better able to do their work. It includes boiler suits, headwraps and other pieces of specialised clothing.

Lester Martin and Silence Ngobeni shared several initiatives of the Mine Health and Safety Council to ensure safer environments on mines and more inclusive workspaces for women in mining. Gauteng Women in Mining (WIM) spokesperson Naraedi Segwe discussed the importance of regional WIM structures and the role it can play to improve the lives of women miners.

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