Women in Mining Association of Namibia
THE Women in Mining Association of Namibia is dedicated to promoting and progressing the development of women in the mining and minerals sector of Namibia. It is the fastest growing network for women in the mining industry aimed at spearheading the development and advancement of women within the mining industry of Namibia, as professionals and entrepreneurially. The Association was established in November 2017, with the aim of addressing some of the pressing challenges incurred by women in industry through raising awareness and thus affecting and transforming the mining sector.
WiMAN is supported by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, through the office of the Deputy Minister, the Honourable Kornelia Shilunga. Honorable Shilunga is the patron of the Association. The Association is a member of the African Women in Mining Association (AWIMA), has recently become an Associate Member on the Chamber of Mines.
Since its establishment in 2017, the Association celebrates a gradual growth in membership. The WiMAN membership now stand at 570. Currently the members are found either in the Large Scale Mining sector, Mining Entrepreneurs, Small Scale miners as well as students. We are very excited to announce that since 2019, our membership opened to males. We are firm believers that one of the enabling factors in driving the transformation in the mining industry from a gender perspective is the participation of both males and females in the change process. In May 2019, we signed on the first 10 males members. The 10 men who signed up decided to not just support WiMAN in the rhetoric but to make themselves available through providing the necessary support when necessary.
5-Year Strategic Plan
In 2018, the WiMAN EXCO conducted a situational analysis. The highlights of the situational analysis was that there are three different types of women in mining (WIM) each with different challenges: 1) The WIM in Large Scale Mining (the women employed in the mines of Namibia), 2) the WIM in Small Scale Mining (women working in the “informal” mining sector) and 3) the Mining Entrepreneur (vendors, EPL holders, suppliers).
At the strategic meeting held in July 2018, the WiMAN Executive Committee determined the strategic direction to take in order to meet the objectives. Three strategic pillars which supports the WiMAN vision were identified: Pillar 1 – Committed leadership, Pillar 2: Attract, retain and advance women in mining and Pillar 3 – Socio-Economic Empowerment of women in mining.
The first two years of the 5-year strategic plan was spend on creating visibility for the Association establishing foundations as well as relations with key players in and outside of the industry. We also focused on growing the membership base.
We also established ourselves continentally as well as globally through participating in regional and international platforms. Through our regional interactions, in 2019 the WiMAN president was invited to attend the African Forum on Mining. At an election held during the first Annual General Meeting of the the Association of African Women in Mining(AWIMA), Zenzi was elected as the President of the Southern African Chapter for AWIMA, thereby earning a seat on the board of directors for AWIMA serving for a 2-year term.
2020 was pegged as the year of implementation of key projects such as the WiMAN Mentorship and Coaching Program under Pillar 2: Attract, retain and advance women in mining. However due to Covid-19, we had to put our implementation program on hold.
The WiMAN Mentorship and Coaching Program
One of the challenges facing the mining industry is that of attracting and retaining female talent to the industry. As a result, gender inequality is most prevalent in the mining industry when compared to other industries, which are densely populated by males. On average, females represent at least 30% of the world’s mining industry. In Namibia, females represent 18% of the total mining industry since 2009 with only 10% representation in executive directorship. With increased global competition, it is crucial to attract and retain the best talent from a diverse workforce. It is also important that leaders know how to unlock the benefits of diversity.
Research has shown that one of the biggest contributors to the slow progress in achieving Gender Equality and Women Economic Empowerment is Unconscious Bias. Unconscious Bias is a social stereotype about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Unconscious Bias mostly encouraged and influenced by deeply entrenched societal and cultural norms. Thus bringing about the desired outcome, and making them last, will unavoidably be a long game. Simply put, the effect of Unconscious Bias has been ignored over the years. What this ultimately means is that the encouragements to combat Unconscious Bias must be sustainable, not just a grab-bag of once-off interventions.
The Women in Mining Association of Namibia (WiMAN), as a partner to the mining industry, will be introducing a gender-inclusive mentoring and coaching program in Namibia. The WiMAN Mentoring and Coaching Programme is a development and capacity building program under our “Attract, retain and advance talent” strategic pillar which will focus on the next generation of decision-makers. The overall aim of the program is to assist in addressing the issue of unconscious bias and in so doing attract and retain more women in the mining industry, by: tackling unconscious bias early in childhood; inspiring and stimulating children’s interest in the STEM fields and careers in mining; combating gender stereotyping in the mining industry, promoting gender-inclusive leadership behaviors in schools and increasing access to role models in the mining industry. The expected outcomes of the WiMAN Mentorship and Coaching programme are: increased female interest in STEM fields with a focus on careers in mining, development of STEM skills and knowledge, develop the pipeline of future female leaders in the industry and assist in creating a more inclusive and diverse industry, as well as reduce existing barriers by tackling unconscious bias.