16 April 2018

Women in Mining

In the week we observed Mozambican Women’s Day at our Montepuez ruby mine (7 April), and contributed to BSR’s whitepaper Women in the Jewelry Supply Chain: Landscape Review of Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment (9 April), Gemfields reflects on the vital and valued role of women in mining. As said by a female employee at our Mozambican mine: “After two years at Montepuez Ruby Mining, here are the things I am sure of: I love my job and I am recognised as a good professional. But my real success is to show the world that there is no such thing as “male work” and a “male environment”, and my proudness to be the living proof that a woman can do any work she aspires to, be career-orientated, ambitious and yet have a balanced personal life.” Gemfields aims to assist all employees, regardless of gender, to develop throughout their careers, as well as seeking opportunities to empower women in the communities surrounding the concession. We are proud of the success seen by the local women’s associations set up by Montepuez Ruby Mining in Mozambique, leading chicken farms in Namanhumbir and building livelihoods for local women. It is a similar story at the Kagem mine in Zambia, owned by Gemfields in a model partnership with the Zambian government. Here, Mwangala Njahi, 22, is ready to take the sector by storm and leave a mark as one of Zambia’s up and coming geologists. The young student is the first female in the first generation of scholars under Kagem Mining’s ongoing scholarship programme. The future geologist believes in striving for perfection in everything she does, and is eager to apply the concepts learned in class in the field, as well as learn from senior geologists at the mine. Mwangala is of the view that “there is no profession that is meant for just a particular gender”. Mwangala is not alone in her pursuit of excellence. Fridah Mbao Hamwene, who turns 50 in May, has been in security for 25 years – the last 10 spent with Kagem’s team in Lufwanyama, where the company operates the world’s single largest producing emerald mine. For her, it is essential to take pride in your work and shine by doing it well. “When I am at the control centre, I am giving protection to both to company property and to people’s lives,” she explains. The mother-of-four’s critical role covers many aspects, from monitoring the flow of traffic in and out of the mine site, to ensuring smooth communication between departments across the mine. “There are a lot of opportunities because currently, the women that are working in mines have proved to their employers that they can do the job”, said Exildah, a senior chef in the department, on women in mining. Gemfields are pleased to have contributed to BSR’s research, published 9 April. The paper explores the role of women in the jewelry supply chain and the challenges they face to their well-being and advancement. The study focuses on precious metals (primarily gold), diamonds, and coloured gemstones and highlights three key phases: mineral and gemstone extraction, diamond and colored gemstone cutting and polishing, and jewellery manufacturing. While this paper is not an exhaustive review of all the ways the jewellery industry impacts women, it provides emerging perspectives, analysis, and observations designed to stimulate dialogue and inform ongoing debate. This paper was prepared for a convening on April 16, 2018 to bring together key stakeholders in the jewellery value chain to explore how the jewellery industry can be a positive driver of women’s empowerment and gender equality.