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Mining industry in South Africa looks to advance women

At last weeks Women in Mining Conference in Johannesburg, Mineral Resources Minister Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi addressed occupational challenges faced ...

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|Aug 14|magazine7 min read

At last week’s Women in Mining Conference in Johannesburg, Mineral Resources Minister Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi addressed occupational challenges faced by women in the mining industry, including safety and security, and encouraged the industry to advance women’s rights and equal participation in the economy.

"Women should fully participate in this important sector that has the potential to grow South Africa's economy and thus improve the lives of all," Minister Ramatlhodi said.

"That is the only way we can truly eradicate the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.”

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According to estimates, the gender pay gap in South Africa is roughly 15 to 17 percent with mining and other heavy industries still lagging behind in terms of gender pay equity.

The Department of Mineral Resources is looking to change that, implementing a wide array of programs to promote women participation in the mining industry from general workers to executive positions.

"We continuously encourage the industry to implement legislation that will protect and advance the cause of women," Ramatlhodi said during the conference.

• Related content: STUDY: Mining Companies Need More Women in the Board Room

"We need to develop implementable results that will transform the industry and increase investment in line with the goals of the National Development Plan.”

Phumeza Mgenge, an organized Labor representative, emphasized some of the challenges women in the sector face, including sexual harassment, fatalities, injuries and body protection gear not fitting, and encouraged women to educate themselves.   

The status of women in South Africa has changed drastically since 1994 as the South African Parliament had 2.7 percent representation of women. After the 2009 general elections, women representation reached 42 percent. Women currently comprise 41 percent of the cabinet.

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