Friday , July 12 2024

Rwanda Mines for Gender Equality: Women Take Up Pickaxes in Pursuit of Progress

Rwanda is unearthing a new kind of treasure: its women. In a sector traditionally dominated by men, the tiny African nation is making big strides towards gender equality in its lucrative mining industry.

This commitment was on full display during a recent celebration of International Day of Women in Mining (IDWIM) held at the Trinity Nyakabingo Mine. The theme, “I am Mining and I Belong,” resonated throughout the ceremony, a powerful message in a sector where only 11.4% of the workforce are women, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).

“We need to see more women working in mining,” declared Diane Nguruyimanzi, Coordinator for the National Women’s Council (CNF) in Rulindo district. “The constitution is very clear about having 30 percent women representation in all sectors.”

But achieving this target requires more than just words. Nguruyimanzi acknowledges the need to dismantle social barriers. “We have committed to encouraging young girls to take mining courses,” she says, “to ensure women are recruited based on abilities and skills, not gender.”

Rwanda Women in Mining Association (RWIMA) President Aline Providence Nkundibiza echoes this sentiment. “We need to change the mindset that mining is a male career,” she asserts. Nkundibiza also highlights the importance of creating a welcoming environment for women. “Women’s spaces and suitable environments” such as childcare facilities are crucial to attracting a female workforce.

At Trinity Metals, one of Rwanda’s biggest mining companies, women are already making their mark. Mary Ashiimwe, the Human Resource Manager, beams as she talks about the company’s initiatives. “We have a women’s association, Trinity Women in Mining (TWIMA),” she says. TWIMA boasts a savings cooperative, childcare facilities, and a canteen project – all designed to empower women and make mining a more attractive career choice.

Ashiimwe emphasizes the value women bring to the industry. “Women are more productive, focused and goal oriented,” she asserts, a belief echoed by Trinity Metals CEO Peter Geleta. “Rwanda is the best place I’ve seen for women’s empowerment,” he declares, praising the government’s leadership in this area.

Geleta assures that the company maintains a zero-tolerance policy for gender-based violence (GBV). “We will take immediate action on any reported cases,” he pledges, urging women to speak up if they experience any form of abuse.

The future of Rwanda’s mining industry is sparkling bright, and women are poised to be a driving force in its continued success. The celebrations may be over, but the journey towards a more equitable mining sector has just begun. As the young female miners danced in celebration, one couldn’t help but feel that Rwanda is truly setting the standard for the rest of Africa, proving that mining can be an industry where women not only belong, but thrive.

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