By Pulane Mafoea
Factors such as gender discrimination and sexual harassment continue to stifle progress for women in the mining, energy and construction sectors.
This was revealed in a report presented by Pulane Mafoea, Research Specialist at the Sam Tambani Research Institute.
The Institute held its official launch on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at the Elijah Barayi Memorial Training Centre in Midrand, which coincided with Women’s Month as well as the release of findings from the Challenges facing women in the mining, construction and energy sectors research.
The research found, among other things, that women working in these male-dominated industries have very limited opportunities to rise within their ranks owing to factors such as gender discrimination, sexual harassment and lack of provision for their physical and structural needs by employers.
The research highlighted the harsh reality of women being raped in their workplaces and having no structures available for recourse.
“These incidents are of grave concern and are on the rise. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of support for victims which is why there needs to be stronger responses for victims of sexual harassment and abuse,” says Mafoea.
Addressing a packed auditorium with stakeholders that included the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Department of Mineral Resources, Chamber of Mines, Gender Activist groups and other Civil Society Organisations, Mafoea emphasized the need to develop, implement and monitor a national action plan to address gender stereotyping and biases in the workplace.
The Sam Tambani Research Institute is mandated jointly by the NUM and the Mineworkers Investment Trust (MIT) to undertake research of the primary issues affecting workers in the three industries with the aim of tabling policy recommendations in relevant platforms.
The family of late political activist, trade unionist and community leader Sam Tambani whom the institute is named after, were also in attendance. Tambani was very passionate about improving the well-being of workers, especially through training. He was killed by apartheid police on 14 April 1993 at Protea Police Station in Soweto while leading a peaceful demonstration against Chris Hani’s murder.