MINES deputy minister Kornelia Shilunga says women have a unique role to play in helping sustain a strong and modern mining industry.
She was speaking during the celebration of international women's day at the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) on Friday, where she observed that mining has helped hundreds of women in the country to realise their potential.
Shilunga said international women's day is a day when women are recognised for their achievements, regardless of national, ethnic, cultural, economic or political differences.
A strong future for the mining sector lies in all Namibians working together as the government, industry and unions in order to meet the people's aspirations for a better life, she added.
"Fostering an internationally competitive mining industry will generate jobs for young Namibians and young women who are the main beneficiaries of a strong, developing mining industry," she said, urging women to be part of the mining industry and to contribute to Namibia's growth.
The mining environment is perceived as being rough, remote and dangerous, as well as being one of the most male-dominated industries in the world.
"Gender does not even enter my mind when I am doing my job; I am a woman, and I am in mining. Mining work is exciting, challenging, fun and very rewarding," Shilunga beamed.
Having a positive attitude and self-confidence is key for women to be successful in mining, she noted, adding that more women are entering mining now as attitudes change and progress has been made to bring more women into the industry.
"It is also fantastic to see the rise of women in management, where they are in decision-making positions, and they are making a difference in their organisations," the deputy minister said.
She added: "Any woman who understands the problem of running a home, understands the problem of running a country."
Inasmuch as women wear many hats, such as being a mother, doctor, councillor, lawyer, police officer, nurturer and so forth, women are also excellent business leaders, politicians, and take up so many other roles that are important in the development of the nation".
NDTC's human resources manager Olivia-May Oliver said she came across disturbing statistics that in business, only 4% of women occupy top positions overall.
"We can all admit and acknowledge that this is not a true reflection of our potential, and it is going to take all of us to change that," she stated.
The president of the Namibian Women in Mining Association, Zenzi Awases, said in 2017, out of more than 600 000 people employed in the country, 7 000 were in the mining industry. However, only 18% out of these were women, which is quite depressing, she added.
She was, however, optimistic that these figures will change with the implementation of new initiatives.