11 August 2017
As a tribute to the 20 000 women who marched against pass laws in 1956, women from the seven provinces of South Africa gathered in the mining town of Burgersfort, in Limpopo, to draft the framework for the Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) constitution.
Women from across the country who have been exploited by the mining sector rallied together in Limpopo, on Women’s Day, to attend WAMUA’s Winter Leadership School and to help map the future of the movement and its vision. WAMUA established in 2012, aims to challenge the continued feminization of unemployment, poverty, inequality, and violence in the mining and extractive sector, while also challenging patriarchy at all levels of society.
While commenting on the importance of the day, WAMUA’s National Convenor, Nester Ndebele said: ” We are celebrating it (Women’s Day) by empowering and developing the capacity of young women in mining affected communities.”
Furthermore, Emily Tjale from Land Access Movement of South Africa (LAMOSA) said that they decided to come to Burgersfort in Sekhukhune because the majority of women and small scale farmers in the area are unaware of their rights.
“Today is also a momentous occasion for WAMUA as it marks the beginning of solidified and formalized women’s movement tasked to challenge the injustices, inequality, and patriarchy in the extractives sector.” Tjale Continued
Once the framework of the constitution is developed, it will be taken to communities for broader input and deliberation before being adopted by the organization.
ActionAid South Africa’s Mining and Extractives Project Manager, Fatima Vally explained that women are collectively organizing to change patterns of power in the extractives sector, making it harder for the mining companies and the state to ignore their concerns and simply act with impunity.
“The development of the framework is a testament to years of struggle that women have fiercely faced against mining companies in order to realize their rights to land, water, a clean environment and a life of dignity. The struggle is not over but the sheer passion and conviction of WAMUA gives me hope that change is inevitable,” concludes Vally