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Women in Mining: Challenge underground Asanda Benya SWOP, Sociology Dept. Wits University.

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Presentation on theme: "Women in Mining: Challenge underground Asanda Benya SWOP, Sociology Dept. Wits University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Women in Mining: Challenge underground Asanda Benya SWOP, Sociology Dept. Wits University

2 Methodology 1.5 years inside the mines 1.5 years inside the mines Participant observation Participant observation - I trained and worked: labourer, pikinini, winch - lived with the workers Challenges and coping mechanisms Challenges and coping mechanisms Subjectivities Subjectivities

3 Women in Mining (WIM) Background WIM underground in SA is a new phenomenon WIM underground in SA is a new phenomenon Britain- Mines Act of 1842, ILO 1935 Britain- Mines Act of 1842, ILO 1935 SA-Mineral Act of 1911 and 1991 SA-Mineral Act of 1911 and 1991 New policies in SA that reverse these prohibitions (1996:H & S, 2002: MPRDA, New policies in SA that reverse these prohibitions (1996:H & S, 2002: MPRDA, 2004: Mining Charter- 10% Women 2004: Mining Charter- 10% Women New legislation targets taken seriously New legislation targets taken seriously

4 Mines have drawn up strategies to help integrate women Mines have drawn up strategies to help integrate women Pregnancy and sexual harassment policies Pregnancy and sexual harassment policies Learnership and mentorship programmes Learnership and mentorship programmes Built separate change rooms on surface Built separate change rooms on surface Challenges remain Challenges remain

5 Who are these women Women in mining VS Women at mining and women for mining Women in mining VS Women at mining and women for mining Age 18-40 (reproductive years) Age 18-40 (reproductive years) Single mothers Single mothers First full time job (contracts) First full time job (contracts) Unemployment and poverty Unemployment and poverty Financial security and benefits Financial security and benefits

6 What do they do Attendants (belt, battery, cage) Attendants (belt, battery, cage) Store issuers Store issuers Assistants (MO, SB) Assistants (MO, SB) Equipment helper Equipment helper Winch operator and miners Winch operator and miners No women RDOs No women RDOs Formal and Informal job allocations Formal and Informal job allocations

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20 Heat Tolerance Screening Mandatory for new recruits Mandatory for new recruits Assess heat tolerance Assess heat tolerance Chamber kept at 28 Chamber kept at 28˚c wet bulb and 29.5˚c dry bulb Climb 24 times in a minute for 30 minutes Stopping= heat intolerance and inability to do manual work under hot and humid conditions

21 People can be eliminated before they undergo HTS People can be eliminated before they undergo HTS - weight, illnesses, emotional state - initial body temperature (37 - initial body temperature ( ↓ 37˚c) Women Women - Pregnancy and breastfeeding, - menstrual period - menstrual period Completing does not mean pass Completing does not mean pass - 37.6 and below is a pass - 37.6˚c and below is a pass - 37.7˚c and above is a fail - 40˚c is indicative of heat stroke

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23 Introduction Working underground is a challenge for women Working underground is a challenge for women Work is unpredictable underground Work is unpredictable underground Culture of planisa Culture of planisa Women have also come up with their own planisa methods Women have also come up with their own planisa methods

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26 Challenges Getting to work Getting to work Inside the cage Inside the cage One piece suits One piece suits Start at low ranks Start at low ranks Heat: men v.s women Heat: men v.s women

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29 Challenges Physically challenging Physically challenging Relations that exclude women Relations that exclude women Removed spatially from stope Removed spatially from stope Training centre: masculinities Training centre: masculinities Tacit knowledge not filtering down Tacit knowledge not filtering down Fetch water, and help with easy tasks Fetch water, and help with easy tasks

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31 challenges Cultural beliefs and discourse of protection (weak and lazy) Cultural beliefs and discourse of protection (weak and lazy) According to men their place is in the kitchen not underground According to men their place is in the kitchen not underground Unions not taking gender seriously Unions not taking gender seriously Sexual harassment Sexual harassment Videos: conditions, H & S Videos: conditions, H & S

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38 Coping mechanisms Coping mechanisms Informal job allocations underground Informal job allocations underground Carpet promotions: Sexual favours Carpet promotions: Sexual favours Exaggerate & emphasize feminine traits- taking care of the family, menstruation, period pains Exaggerate & emphasize feminine traits- taking care of the family, menstruation, period pains They planisa- make a plan They planisa- make a plan –Fraudulent HTS stamps –Mtshongolo pills

39 Use culture and traditions- sotho men and their cultural obligation to assist women. Use culture and traditions- sotho men and their cultural obligation to assist women. “ If you call them Ntate, they’re more likely and willing to help you… The more respect you give the older men, the more they tend to side with you and help you accomplish tasks. Ethnicity and kin ties- setswana and from the same village Ethnicity and kin ties- setswana and from the same village “men tend to accept you much quicker and are more willing to assist you if you are of the same ethnic group as them”. “She has her Tswana brothers here; she doesn’t need us to help her”

40 Is Unionizationthe solution? Union rivalry (macro) Union rivalry (macro) Gender bias: workplace issues & alliance (national politics) Gender bias: workplace issues & alliance (national politics) Wages Wages Gender solidarity- further victimization Gender solidarity- further victimization Conspiracy of silence: don’t tell (Rape) Conspiracy of silence: don’t tell (Rape) Few women representatives Few women representatives

41 Unionization Representation: Shopstewards, Representation: Shopstewards, - women structures (change house) - organising desks - complaints desk - powerless - legitimacy - strategic silencing of women’s voices

42 Unionization Policies: exclusion of women Policies: exclusion of women – Pregnancy: alternative employment, financial vulnerabilities – Housing: Obligated to families 1 st – Migration (60km radius) –Sexual harassment

43 Conclusion There are challenges that women face by virtue of being women: sexual harassment There are challenges that women face by virtue of being women: sexual harassment Unions not the answer for women within Unions not the answer for women within Sexist ideology of domesticity Sexist ideology of domesticity Collaborated with employers to further exploit women (sexually and socially) Collaborated with employers to further exploit women (sexually and socially) Incorporating women is not the solution Incorporating women is not the solution Women continue to be vulnerable and exploited Women continue to be vulnerable and exploited Unions have failed, what are the alternatives? Unions have failed, what are the alternatives?


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