According to World Health Organisation Global Status Report on Violence Prevention, one in three women and girls will experience physical, sexual or gender-based violence (SGBV) in their lifetime. Regrettably, only four per cent of these women or girls will report the violation due to stigma or fear.
Even with thriving mining businesses, mining communities have not been spared from pre-existing social norms and gender inequalities. In these communities, child marriages and unwanted pregnancies have become prevalent. In some areas, certain traditional leaders still encourage people to conform to traditional practices, rituals and attitudes such as, kugadza mapfihwa and kuripa ngozi. Sadly, and unbeknown to some, this perpetuates the discrimination of women and girls thereby exposing them to GBV.
In response to these challenges, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)with support from Christian Aid is implementing a programme in mining communities whose objective is to raise awareness on effective ways to increase access to justice for women who have experienced gender-based violence while sensitizing communities on how they can contribute in the fight against this scourge. The organisation is also collaborating with other anti-GBV partners including the Zimbabwe Republic Police (Victim Friendly Unit) who have been coming through to raise awareness.
“The trainings are really excellent and at least I am now aware on how I can challenge bad socially constructed ideas,” said Thona Moyo, a small-scale gold miner….” GBV knows no boundary and even I as a woman in mining I have not been spared. I have been called names, been victimised by machete wielding gangs. However, I am happy that ZELA has managed to come up with this programme and we are willing to train others including men so that they are equally empowered.”
There is need to scale up prevention efforts that address unequal gender power relations as a root cause of gender-based violence. Gender-based violence is a significant barrier to the attainment of every development outcome. Sustainable Development Goal 5 recognizes that gender equality is the foundation for a “peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world” and that this includes a world free of gender-based violence. Goal five explicitly calls for the elimination of “all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres.”
It is increasingly recognized that men must be part of the solution and that they play an essential role in promoting and supporting gender equality. All men can be effective advocates for change and any gender equality initiatives should involve both women and men as active and equal partners.
Since 2017, ZELA’s interventions have benefited artisanal and small-scale miners. These have been a combination of grassroots and national based interventions, aimed at contributing towards meaningful development.