Women in mining : a conceptual framework for gender issues in the South African mining sector
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The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (28 of 2002) (MPRDA) and the accompanied Broad-based Socio-economic Empowerment Charter aimed to rectify previous inequalities and disadvantages in the mining sector and specifically provide for the inclusion of women in core mining activities. According to the Act and the Charter, the mining industry was supposed to reach a quota of 10% women in core mining activities by 2009. The amendment of the Broad-based Socio-economic Empowerment Charter for the South African Mining and Minerals Industry (launched in 2010) set further requirements in terms of employment equity targets; the Charter requires a 40% historically disadvantaged South African representation in core and critical skills by 2015. Although well intended, the establishment of gender equality in the male-dominant mining sector remains one of the biggest equity challenges in the country and numerous problems accompany the deployment of women in core mining activities. Against this background, the main objective of the study was to critically analyse gender issues in the mining sector and to subsequently develop a conceptual framework that will enable the mining sector to contribute to and ensure the sustainable employment of women in the mining sector. A literature review was done, firstly to provide an understanding of persistent inequalities in society and the workplace, and secondly to gain an in-depth understanding of the variables that have an impact on women in the world of work in general and in the mining sector specifically. An empirical study was conducted to determine and investigate relevant gender-related issues in the mining sector. Quantitative (questionnaires) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and direct observation) research paradigms were used. From the literature review as well as the empirical study, it is evident that the deployment of women in core positions is still accompanied by various challenges, not only for managers but also for male co-workers as well as the women themselves. Although the numbers of women in the South African mining industry have risen, there is still a long way to go to successfully and sustainably ensure women's participation in the industry. Through the literature study and the empirical research, it became clear that various factors need to be considered for the successful and sustainable deployment of women in the mining sector. The study concludes by making recommendations and offering a conceptual framework, with the main pillars being company policies, workplace opportunities, infrastructure facilities, physical ability, health and safety and workplace relations. This framework can be implemented and used by various stakeholders in the mining sector to contribute to the successful and sustainable deployment of women in the mining sector.
- Humanities