South Africa: NUM to build on its gender equality achievements

Last 24-25 February, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) held its 8th National Women’s Structure Conference in Durban, South Africa. 

Under the theme “Working Class’s Women Advancing Socio-Economic Transformation,” NUM showcased its major achievements on gender equality since 2018. It also presented its strategic objectives for the next conference period, which includes the campaign to include women members in all of NUM’s decision-making processes, cultivation of non-discriminatory environments with regards to accessing resources, programmes and information, and preparation of an integrated plan that clearly articulates women’s issues to reflect the needs and aspirations of a gender-equal society.  

A Women’s Conference Report was also presented which provided a gender overview of the different industries (including mining, construction, energy et.) where NUM is present at. The union reported that while the male-dominated construction sector only has 16 percent of women employed, on average, they receive 4 months of maternity leave (with extra unpaid months, when necessary). The conference also confirmed that paternity leave in the industry was already promulgated. 

Newly re-elected executive Lydia Nkopane is set to steer the implementation of NUM’s women’s programmes as determined by its conference resolutions. Meanwhile, the union’s women leaders, as part of putting a strong gender lens on COVID-19 recovery efforts, will also focus on the development and re-alignment of services, policies and programmes centred around hygiene in workplaces, women’s career development, election of women in workplace structures; and eradication of unfair labour practices and gender-based violence in the construction, mining, energy and other related industries. 

BWI Africa and Middle East Regional Women’s Committee Chair Fozert Mugabe expressed her solidarity to NUM and its women leaders and members. She urged them to continue contributing to BWI and the global trade union movement’s goal of building a gender-equal future.