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WHAT ABOUT THE WOMEN??
Gender dynamics in resource management
In the past years, gender has been ‘mainstreamed’ into community development initiatives but this has not transformed the lives of women living in these communities. In fact women are marginalised especially in terms of gender roles and responsibilities, access to and control of resources, involvement in decision making and power relations. It does not help that the country is largely patriarchal but still views gender equality and social inclusion as a way of stripping off the powers of men and placing women at the top. This line of thought has attributed to the increase in gender based violence promoting family disintegration, poverty, HIV and Aids and death.

Women living in resource rich communities face social exclusion in all spheres of life. Companies prefer to employ men at the expense of their female counterparts. One woman, a widow in Marange lamented ‘vari kungotora varume chete, ko isusu? Tinodawo kushandira mhuri dzedu’ (they are only employing men, what about us? We also want to fend for our families) Another woman in the same area commented that deliberate segregation of women in these companies often lead to poverty in the community as women have been known to be better managers of finances, whilst most men who are gainfully employed drink away their wages leaving the women in desperation to fend for the family by themselves.
In the tea, coffee and sugar cane industry in Chisumbanje and Chipinge women who have been ‘lucky’ to be employed have faced challenges both at work and at home. It is a vicious cycle of gender based violence that has stripped off the women their dignity and self confidence. At work, several women have complained of their male supervisors demanding sexual favours in exchange for lighter duties and overtime. They give in because they need the money and the job as in most cases they are the bread winners. They cannot report to their superiors who are mostly men as well. This makes women vulnerable, such that even at workers meetings their voice is never heard. The men dominate the meetings and the women have to abide by whatever decisions reached by their male counterparts. The companies have not made tangible efforts to ensure that the voices of women are heard and their views considered.


After working in the coffee, tea and sugar cane plantations, their husbands will be waiting to confisticate their earnings in order to stop them from acquiring resources. An access and control survey conducted in Chipinge ward 19 revealed that a woman, working or not, had no right to own property. The Ndau culture states that the husband has control over all assets, livestock and earnings. Only 10% of the women said they could acquire livestock such as chickens and goats and the only assets they could earn are kitchenware. It is a general Ndau belief that “Mombe dzemukadzi dzinopisa dzemurume” (the woman’s cows cause death to the man’s cows if placed in the same kraal). So no woman can own anything and lack of ownership means no control. In fact, an access and control tool used revealed that 70% of the men in resource extraction communities considered women as an asset, not a partner. When asked to list down their assets, on top of their lists were the wives. “mukadzi chiro changu, ndakamutenga sematengero andinoita mombe” (My wife is and asset. I bought her just like i bought my cow).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Anhu ari kunyengwa kuSabot uko. Maboss anenge atikana uchida kuti basa rireruke ndide,ini ndotodawo. Amuna havadi kuseenza,ngekumwe doro mumabhawa. Apedza oti akadzi ari kuhura otitaka!! tashatirwawo ana tatita woye!”- Women are being asked for sexual favors at Sabot were they go in search for work, on the basis that they will be given lighter duties. Meanwhile, the men don’t want to work, they go to drinking holes the whole day. Upon discovering about the woman’s infidelity, the man beats up the wife but still expects her to go to work for the family.



Men taking part in Access and control of resources discussion.
Lack of resources means the women are stripped of their power. They are not given a chance to participate meaningfully in community development programs, they are neither consulted nor allowed to take part in the decision making process, even in issues that affect them. Such was the case for displaced families in Marange.Although families were not given opportunities to choose between going and staying, little attention was paid to the plight of women and children. ‘Varume ndivo vaibvunzwa nekutaurirwa zvaiitika nekuti vanonzi ndivo vakuru vemusha.’(Men were the only ones consulted about the developments because the society deems them as heads of the household). When families were relocating men would first ensure that whatever they needed was transported at the expense of the women’s assets. ‘Ini baba vakatoti nditengese huku nembudzi dzangu nekuti kwataienda kwanga kusingazokwani zvese, asi havana kana chavo chavakatengesa’ (My husband ordered me to sell all my chickens and goats because there was not enough space for the livestock at Arda. But he did not even sell one of his.)Women wanted to be heard, to also voice their concerns and take part in the negotiations, but men would have none of it and the mining companies turned a blind eye. Upon moving, each family was given US 1000.00 relocation fees and men purchased illicit brews and hoards of alcohol with the money. Some men bought livestock which they now call their own, yet the money was intended to benefit every member of the household.


Young women participate in a Power walk -a tool to reveal the power dynamics in a community

The effect of gender based violence in these communities does not only affect the women, who are often considered as the only victims, they extend to the community as a whole. It destroys family structures and relationships, and this relationship breakdown often seeps into the community, killing the spirit of ubuntu, which often encourages people to work in unity for the development of their communities. In some instances, social exclusion of women and children may cause trauma and emotional damage to children, who often repeat the cycle when they become adults.
Gender based violence also aggravates the health situation in these communities. A woman whose husband works at a mining company in Marange explained that the company only employs men, and no women are allowed in the hostels. The men only get to come home after two weeks and in the meantime they satisfy their desires with commercial sex workers at Hot Springs- a nearby business centre.She called on mining companies to revise this policy and allow the wives of employees to visit frequently. ‘vanoziva here kuti zvinokonzera mhirizhonga? Mari iri kuperera pahot apo! Vapedza vouuya nesiki!’ (Do they know how much this has exacerbated domestic violence? All the money is spent at Hot Springs and then they come home with sexually transmitted diseases!). Lack of resource ownership and control renders women vulnerable. Women do not have the power to ask their husbands to use protection or go for VCT in fear of being beaten or sent back to their parents. Companies, by omitting to pay attention and address gender imbalances in these communities have contributed to gender based conflicts and human rights abuses of women and children by their male counter parts.

Resource extraction has been known to be ‘a man’s world’ but what about women?
In order to address the challenges of gender based violence, there is need for rights education campaigns in communities, this will enable women to know their rights and demand them. Companies can facilitate programs to strengthen the capacity of communities to wear gender lenses and uphold the rights of women and children. Companies must be aware of the need to achieve gender balance and include women in development initiatives, consult them and ensure they participate in decision making processes. Community leaders and leaders of the mining companies need to be sensitised on how to embrace women as equals in the community. There is also need to engage duty bearers who also play an indirect role in women’s access to services (especially sexual reproductive health).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CRDZIM  2013