COLLEEN BAWN, ZIMBABWE — Three things have always drawn me to the world of mining: I’m married to a man who is trained as a mining engineer. My first job out of college was at a radio station in a mining town. Then, I moved to another mining town.
For me, mining is always a topic of conversation. This story idea was birthed there.
My husband has always felt that mining is too much manual labor for women. After an intense argument about the merits of his opinion, I decided to find out how female miners in the region were faring.
I should mention from the onset that working for foreign media is not easy in Zimbabwe. You are treated with suspicion and you have to take pains to explain what you are up to. The female miners were quite excited about having a reporter interested in them but they were not sure if having this non-local media journalist talk to them was okay. So I had to get clearance to report in the area.
I went to five different offices to declare who I was and why I was interested in visiting mining sites. It was a tiring process and I almost quit, but it was worth it. The grueling questions from the officials I met gave me a chance to sell them on the integrity and fairness practiced by journalists at Global Press Journal.
On the first day that I visited a mining area, the police stopped the car I was in. The driver told the police officer that I was going to talk to a woman at one of the sites, which led to another litany of questions on who had given me access to the area, what I wanted and so forth. I played along and gave him my business card. He let us go 15 minutes later.
All of the challenges I faced in getting this story paid off.
During my time in the mining area I learned to appreciate the resilience of the women who work in an industry dominated by men. I was fatigued after just one day. This made me wonder about the people who are there working every day. I have ideas for other stories. Be assured that you’ll soon read them on this site!