Another gender barrier has been broken. In a first we have women managers now directing mining operations. Pratixa Kher, an engineer is a pioneer in the dusty Noamundi Hills of Jharkhand, the mines that supply the iron ore to Tata Steel’s blast furnaces reported Economic Times. She was one of the many engineers hired by the company who will be doing jobs traditionally considered too hazardous and physically taxing for women.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Tata Steel hires women for its mines in Noamundi Hills of Jharkhand for the first time.
  • This is now possible because the government has scrapped Section 46 of the Mines Act 1952, which was more than 60 years old.
  • The company has created a woman friendly environs in and around the mines to for its female workers.
  • In the next seven-eight years, the company aims to identify a woman chief of mines to head its mining operation.

Kher, has been recruited as a senior manager and holds a first-class certificate in mining from the Directorate General of Mines Safety DGMS, Dhanbad. She will be shift in-charge, leading a group of 40-50 people, including men and women.

The Act placed restrictions on women from working night shifts in surface mines have also been removed. As a result now women can work in underground mines as well.

Section 46 of the Mines Act 1952 scrapped

This is now possible because the government has scrapped Section 46 of the Mines Act 1952, which was more than 60 years old, and imposed restrictions on women’s employment in mines in February. The Act placed restrictions on women from working night shifts in surface mines have also been removed. As a result now women can work in underground mines as well.

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“We had women working in general roles in mining areas earlier. However, the change in law has opened the opportunity of women to be deployed in mines 24×7 even in night shifts. Starting September 1, we have deployed women engineers at our Noamundi OMQ,” said Arun Misra, vice president, raw material, Tata Steel, reported ET.

Women friendly environs

But hats off to the company that created a woman friendly environs in and around the mines to for its female workers. First and foremost it adhered to the rule of not less than three women in a shift and also obtaining written consent of the concerned employees. Some other significant steps that they took included deploying of women security personnel, providing transport services, employing female drivers, installation of CCTVs and GPS trackers in the vehicles, rest rooms, sanitary napkin vending machines, etc.

With the crash of this barrier new opportunities have opened for women in the mining sector. They can be now employed in allied technical jobs like fitters, welders, channel operators, drill operators and drivers.

Looking forward

Tata Steel has reportedly recruited 10 officers – including mining, electrical, mechanical and mineral processing engineers – who have been deployed at the Noamundi Ore, Mines and Quarries (OMQ) division and started on Sunday. The company is also considering hiring more women employees at the mine. (Business Today)

With the crash of this barrier new opportunities have opened for women in the mining sector. They can be now employed in allied technical jobs like fitters, welders, channel operators, drill operators and drivers.

“Women will bring in unique qualities to the table, including different ways of thinking, different sensitivities to problem solving, and a multidimensional approach,” said Misra to ET. “We are on the look-out for more women for our mines. We want women who would compete in the organisation and would see a future for them and are not intimidated by the work around.”

One bright spot in all of these is that in seven-eight years, the company aims to identify a woman chief of mines to head its mining operation.

Image credit: Tata Steel

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