THE Tanzania Women Miners Association (Tawoma) has elected new leaders, who yesterday vowed to address challenges facing women miners to help them improve their livelihoods and boost the country’s economy.
During the election, which was conducted yesterday in the country’s capital, Dodoma, participants voted for Ms Gilly Raja as the chairperson, to replace Ms Eunice Ngele, who led the association for the past five years.
Ms Salma Kundy was elected the secretary-general of Tawoma. Speaking after the election conducted after every five years, the new chairperson expressed optimism that it was high time for women to get out of poverty through mining, the sector that contributed immensely to the country’s economy.
Currently, the mining sector’s contribution to the GDP is estimated at 4.8 per cent.
“Our intention as new leaders is to lift women out of poverty to the higher status through mining,’’ she said, adding that there was a need to increase the value chain in mining activities, especially gemstones in the country.
To ensure Tawoma sought the market in the mining sector, she insisted, from now on, the association would start convening a series of meetings with women in the mining sector and all stakeholders involved.
Ms Kundy, who was elected unanimously by members to serve for the second term, said her main task was to establish Tawoma shops countrywide, beginning with Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Arusha and Mwanza.
According to her, the shops are vital in helping women miners to have a market to their mineral products.
“We want to ensure we help women in the mining sector get out of poverty,’’ she insisted. Tawoma’s vision is to eliminate poverty while creating new jobs for women and the youth in the mining sector.
Founded on August 22, 1997, Tawoma also supported the education of women miners on topics such as the dangers of mining, health and safety and the use of chemicals, such as cyanide and mercury for gold mining, and its effects on their health and the environment.
Tawoma’s main purpose is to develop and promote women miners and mining communities and address the problems of disorganised mining, including economic hardships, poverty alleviation and the needs of members.
The association cooperates with various national and international organisations to achieve their goals.
They include the Southern Eastern Minerals Centre (Seamic), University of Dar es Salaam (Geology Department), Tanzania Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA), Tanzania Chamber of Energy and Minerals, Commission for Science and Technology (Costech), MTL Consultants Limited, Gemological Institute of America (GIA), PACT TZ, UNECA and the Small Scale Gemstone Mining Cluster.