Factors contributing to low representation of women at Kansanshi Mining Plc in Solwezi-North Western Province of Zambia

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Bwalya, Rodrick
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Mining is one of the major industries in Zambia and second key employer after government. It is seen as the most likely means of improving standards of living, providing employment and economic changes that people associate with development and modernity (Lahiri-Dutt, 2006). Stated policies in the mining industry proclaim commitment to principles of equality of opportunity in the workforce (Macintyre, 2010).While equality of opportunity in the workforce underpins Kansanshi Mining Plc employment policy, counter differences in equality of opportunity between men and women prevail. The participation of women is low (6.3%) as compared to men (93.7%). Previous researches have not adequately investigated the problem from a gender perspective. Research findings have contributed to empirical scholarly body of knowledge on gender and mining and bridged the knowledge gap. Besides, it is hoped that the findings will be utilized by management to mainstream gender in mining operations, programs and policies so as to bring about gender equality. The objectives were to: (a) assess the extent of employees’ participation in various occupations from a gender perspective; (b) ascertain availability and application of gender policies and programs; (c) assess staff recruitment, skills development and promotions procedures from a gender perspective; (d) explore perceptions and attitudes of management and employees towards equal participation in various mining jobs; and (e) examine workplace challenges of employees. Specific Questions were: (a) what was the extent of employees’ participation in various occupations from a gender perspective? (b) What gender policies and programs were at the Mine and how are they applied? (c) Were staff recruitment, skills development and promotion procedures done from a gender perspective? (d) What were the perceptions and attitudes of Management and employees towards equal participation in various mining jobs? (e) What were the workplace challenges of employees? Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. The study design is case study design. Study instruments included interview guides, self-administered questionnaires, observation checklists, digital voice recorder and record review of management documents. Sample size was 180. Study population included management staff and non-management staff. Purposive and Stratified sampling were used. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS and Chi square test was applied. Qualitative data was thematically analyzed. The study established that key factors which significantly contributed to low representation of women (6.3 per cent) compared to men (93.7 per cent) were: high criteria for recruitment (high education qualifications and experience required) of employees which excludes those without post secondary qualifications; lack of gender sensitive policies and programs in place; and perceptions by management that mining jobs are traditionally male-oriented. In view of the findings, the study recommended that management should mainstream gender in policies and all programming alongside a quota system when recruiting, training and promoting; and management training in gender issues to change the mindset in the company with regard to women viewing them as fellow workers and believing that women can indeed also do both physically demanding jobs and other jobs in administration. Women should start pursuing certifications in the trades the mining industry requires such as sciences and engineering programs. Future research and action should include stakeholders such as former mine employees, students and educators from learning institutions and mine trade unions on their perspectives regarding challenges limiting full participation of women
Women empowerment , Women in Decision Making