According to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MACSMED), there is limited participation of women in male dominated industries in Zimbabwe.
Mining, agriculture, and energy development are the most male dominated industries that are currently poorly participated by women due to existing gender disparities.
Low participation of women in these industries is attributed gender gaps in the form of lack of knowledge, patriarchy, stereotyping and general fear of failure in the industries.
Gender Director at the (MACSMED) Mr. Stephen Nyaruwata underscores a lack of technical expertise of women as a gender gap to participate in male dominated industries such as mining.
Nyurata cites an example of how it is strict for women and girls to enroll at engineering institutions in Zimbabwe and how women occupy a mere quarter of enrolment at the Zimbabwe school of mines.
“The current enrolment at the Zimbabwe school of mines has 30 percent female students and 70 percent males…this reflects that mining is still male dominated and women stay hidden under their domestic roles and they have comparatively fewer opportunities than men to gain practical mining experience”.Stephen Nyaruwata ( Gender Director at MACSMED)
However, social constructs and patriarchal systems that undermine women’s capabilities have also been attributed to the gender gaps in industries and low representation of women in male dominated industries in Zimbabwe.
In a series of podcasts, feminist, and gender activist, Ms Yamikani Hapaguti says negative social and cultural norms contribute to lack of participation of women in male dominated industries.
“Negative cultural norms cut across all sectors of the development in Zimbabwe are responsible for the gender inequality in industry. They are further reinforced by gender stereotypes that contribute to perpetuation of these negative social and cultural norms…the resultant inequalities which are pervasive are a result of the patriarchal nature of Zimbabwean society”Yamikani Hapaguti ( Social Commentator , Undomesticated Podacast )
Ms Hapaguti adds that Zimbabwean women are entrapped to gender specified roles that limit their participation in productive industries to generate wealth.
“Due to social norms, most women find themselves in a productivity trap that relates them to unpaid care work and the informal sector…During school years particularly in rural settings girls are overburdened with household work which affects their school performance,” Ms Hapaguti explained.
This investigation also considered women’s voices in Mashonaland West – province to share their experience of why and how they hardly participate in male dominated industries.
Boutique owner and Post graduate student at Chinhoyi University of Technology Ms Wendy Matimba said women have limited access to financial resources to capacitate themselves in mining and agriculture.
“As women, we lack acceptable collateral such as title deeds required by most financial institutions as a result of traditional property rights imposed against women particularly in Rural Makonde…In this case, women are more likely to operate as informal miners than males because of structural impediments to mining claims,” said Ms Matimba.
Despite the inequalities, the government of Zimbabwe is committed to gender mainstreaming through crafting gender responsive policies across industries.
Section 17 of the revised 2013 constitution of Zimbabwe says the State must promote full gender balance.
So far, the government of Zimbabwe has managed to implement gender mainstreaming best practices. The Ministry of Woman’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development in collaboration with school of mines provide training for women miners on basic skills and procedures for compliance.