When someone talks about working in mining, most people have an image of someone wearing a hard hat with a headlamp, and everyone who works in a mine is exclusively underground.
This image has led some people to believe that working in mining is only for men because of these conditions.
But for Neema Mwidibo, who has worked in mining for 20 years, she tells a different story.
Mwidibo, now a mother of four, joined Geita Gold Mining Limited in 2005 and started working as a radio receptionist and data analyst, even though she only had a secondary school certificate.
“I was born in Nyarugusu village in Geita town. After I completed my education in Geita, I really wanted to work at Geita Gold Mine after seeing my brothers working there.”
Speaking to our reporter, she says that when she applied for a job at the mine, she was offered a position by a single contractor advertised by GGML, and that two years later she started working at GGML as a radio receiver and data analyst.
As she had limited schooling, training was very close to her heart, so she saved money to achieve this goal.
Gradually, she joined a distance learning programme at Cambridge University in the UK and successfully obtained a diploma in procurement, which enabled her to join GGML’s procurement department.
She says that after a year she decided to go back to university to do a Bachelor of Arts in Procurement and Supply Chain Management and had to stop working to have enough time for herself to study.
After completing her studies, Mwidibo returned to GGML and currently, Neema is a senior supervisor in the procurement department.
Contribution from GGML
She says GGML has made a unique, lifelong contribution to her successful professional development.
She points out that she recently participated in a special training designed to empower women to reach high working positions (Female Future Tanzania Programme or FFT), which helped catapult her to the position of Senior Supervisor: Procurement & Contracts.
“During this training, I met great women in different companies who all had inspiring stories that convinced me that it is possible for me as a woman to work at the highest level. During the training, I learned about different aspects of leadership and different programmes,” she says.
At GGML, she says, a lot of attention is paid to women when it comes to different opportunities, on-the-job training, education, and even employment.
“I encourage my female colleagues to pursue a career in mining as the work environment is safe for them and their future. If someone comes here, GGML can give them the opportunity to develop academically and professionally,” she says.
Mwidibo’s statement also applies to Lina Sitta – Senior Officer Training Officer – HSE&T at Geita Gold Mine.
Her journey began in 2003 as an assistant teacher at the GGML kindergarten School, which is part of the Geita Gold International School. She worked there for seven years and was then transferred to the primary school where she worked for four years.
She was later promoted to Safety and Training Officer where she worked for four years and then became Senior Safety and Training Officer.
Lina says her success is due to the opportunities GGML gave her from one position to the next.
“The success came mainly through hard work. I am a teacher, but I used the advantages I saw to do fruitful work for the company.
She says she loved teaching from a young age, although she loved journalism and broadcasting.
She says GGML has been at the forefront of supporting women’s efforts by setting up various programmes and initiatives that can promote and develop them to recognise their contribution.
“GGML has launched many programmes, including FFT, because every year four or five women participate in training that prepares them to become better leaders and even board members,” she says.
Lina, who is also the vice-chairperson of the GGM Ladies Association, which discusses, advises and resolves various issues of women working in the mine within GGML, says the company’s policy is good for every woman.
Speaking about International Women’s Day, which is celebrated every year on 8 March, Lina believes that society should prepare girls from an early age to be confident, know their worth, and know that they can be leaders.
It is important to prepare girls because their roles are not limited to domestic duties and carrying and giving birth, but much more. But the community also needs to create partnerships so that the person can adapt to an environment that offers much more.
“But also, companies that have female employees should have specific programs that will be regularly evaluated on how much they can help these women grow,” she says.
She also urges women at GGML and in Tanzania to apply for jobs advertised at GGML and work hard if successful.
“Work is the foundation of your life and development. If one does something they do not like, it’s a waste of time, so they should love their work and their position to develop personally and their company.”
Dr Subira Joseph, who has been with GGML for more than 10 years, says the company has offered a variety of educational and professional opportunities since 2021 and has also successfully participated in the FFT programme, which gives her confidence.
“I can handle a variety of responsibilities, such as leading my department,” she says; “This training has obviously helped me a lot.”
She says when she started at GGML there were no female doctors, and some female employees felt uncomfortable being treated by male doctors, so a mix of female and male medical professionals increased efficiency within the company.
Josephine Kimambo, who interned at GGML after graduating from Ardhi University, says she learned a lot in a short time in mining.
Josephine was one of 12 students from the class of 2012 who participated in the special graduate programme that provided them with on-the-job training. Seven of them were taken on and are employed in various departments at GGML. Josephine proved her skills during her 8 years as an environmental engineer and was promoted to senior engineer in the environmental department, where she still works today.
“I encourage my female colleagues to join this industry because if you have the right attitude and want to work hard, there are many opportunities at GGML. GGML has a diverse workforce with people from all corners of the world.
Melxedeck Mulokozi, who has worked at GGML for more than 14 years, advises women to realize that they can achieve anything, just like the current President of the United Republic of Tanzania, who is a woman.
“If you look at GGML’s policies, it is clear that they have equal values and respect for all. They want to give everyone the right to address something they think is wrong and should not be done because of their gender. Women should not hesitate to take to the streets and be confident in their ability to do so.”