170 years! This is the length of time that our society will take to put an end to the distance that separates men and women. The estimate of the latest Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum reveals that the labour market will undergo an intense transformation until the time comes when women can occupy the same positions as men.

These changes are already taking place under our noses: here in South Africa, the mining industry is the best example. Despite the crisis, the number of women employed increased according to Government stats. Last year, 58.000 jobs were occupied by females in the mining area, this year the number already jumped to 61.000. Ladies represent 14% of the total workers in the sector.

I visited the Canyon Coal mine and I could see that. There, of the 250 employees, 16.8% are women. They occupy positions in the security sector, machine operations, engineering and in several other areas. The mine located in Delmas, Mpumalanga is a model that proves how much it is possible to make comfortable for women an environment traditionally occupied by only men.

Angel Lubisi, 33, works in the security sector and has been in mining for almost a decade. Before working in this area, she hesitated of her own safety, “I thought it would be dangerous and with an environment not good for women but since I started working in the mine I think it’s like any other place”.

Zaita Makua, 24, shares the same opinion. She is a junior engineer and has developed career skills that are usually occupied by men, “My brother is an electrician, my other brother is an engineer, So, for me, I grew up learning it. Especially electricity. Here, I feel very comfortable. ”

The paradigm that there are activities that are best performed by the male is being broken little by little. Canyon Coal shows that although we live in a sexist and unequal society, there is hope. That’s what I realized when I asked the General Manager Alan Mabbett about the difference between having male and female employees and he replied: no, there is no difference.


By Vanessa da Rocha

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