22 September 2022
A first for women in Zambia
The Kagem emerald mine – majority owned by Gemfields in partnership with the Zambian government – has taken a leap forward, encouraging women to come forward for training and employment as heavy equipment operators.
Four women recently took their seats behind the wheel of heavy equipment trucks at the mine in Lufwanyama. This represents a major step forward for gender equality in the mining industry, which has traditionally been heavily male-dominated.
Kagem is a world-leading supplier of responsibly sourced coloured Zambian emeralds, which are mined in accordance with its ethos of transparency, legitimacy and integrity. The mine prides itself on being at the forefront of progress. By encouraging women to apply for this role throughout the recruitment process, Kagem sent a clear signal that promoting diversity and gender equality sits alongside responsible sourcing as a top priority for the mine.
The four women in question – Idah Lungu, Agness Kunda, Betty Kafwilo and Beatrice Tamango – underwent rigorous training to become Kagem’s first female Articulated Dump Truck (ADT) operators. Ms Kafwilo, who had previously struggled to find employment, says she hopes to move up the ranks and one day become an ADT instructor or safety officer for the mine, while Ms Lungu expressed hope that this is just the beginning of opening up new roles for women in Zambia in male-dominated fields.
Kagem’s General Manager Mr Sanjeev Kumar commented: “We have always believed everyone should be given an opportunity to work in mining, regardless of gender. We hope this new initiative will help break down the barriers women often face in the industry and pave the way for more women to pursue careers in mining. The women are already making a positive impact on the team and are quickly learning the ropes.”
Ms Lungu sums up the significance of this development for gender equality: “I have always believed that whatever a man can do, a woman can do too,” she said. “And as I take on this role, I hope to be a role model for other women.”