Interview with TAWOMA's Secretary General Shamsa Diwani – The Raw Stone

January 31, 2013
We are extremely excited and honored to have Shamsa Diwani, Secretary General of the Tanzania Association of Women Miners, participate in an interview with us. Shamsa pioneered TAWOMA in 1997 when she pulled together the various small scale mines who are now part of TAWOMA today.  TAWOMA is the first and only small scale mining organization that supports bringing women into the mining world in Tanzania. It is also one of the few such organizations in Africa. We are pleased to be working with and supporting TAWOMA by selling their gemstones throughout the world.
The Raw Stone: Tell us a little bit about TAWOMA - what is the organization? How does it function?
Shamsa: The Tanzania Women Miners Association (TAWOMA) is a policy advocate wing for Women and Small Scale Miners in Tanzania with a view of mainstreaming gender and promoting women participation in mining to improve their economic status. It was formed on 22nd August 1997 as a non-governmental and non-profit organization.

TAWOMA’s Mission is to facilitate women miners to organize themselves access financial, technical and marketing services to enable them carry out mining activities that are both economically and commercially viable and environmentally sustainable.

As a non-governmental organization TAWOMA is funded through membership fees, donors, well-wishers and from organizing a range of activities.

The Raw Stone: How many members are in TAWOMA?
Shamsa: TAWOMA has 522 members all over Tanzania.

The Raw Stone: What major problems is TAWOMA facing?
Shamsa: Major problems TAWOMA is facing is its members lack modern equipment for mining, technology in mining and value addition in minerals, and lapidary tools. Also as we depend on membership fees and other members are not paying their fees it becomes difficult to run the office and we do not have any donor to assist us to run the office.
The Raw Stone: What is TAWOMA doing now?
Shamsa: TAWOMA  facilitates women miners on access of finance, technical, marketing, networking and advocacy.   TAWOMA assists members when ever they face problems with the government in accessing their rights.

The Raw Stone: I saw that TAWOMA was involved in lobbying the government to improve mining conditions, could you tell me a bit about this?
Shamsa: TAWOMA was involved lobbying to the Government to change policy for small scale miners through Policy Makers (Members of Parliament) and Government officials.  They managed to achieve some of the policies that they were addressing.

The Raw Stone: What has TAWOMA done in the past year?
Shamsa: TAWOMA organised and hosted a special event called "MINERS DAY." This has been held since 2004 and has been officiated by the Minister of Energy and Minerals. This event is always attended by all small scale miners and all others who are in the mining sector such as brokers, master dealers and service providers at the mining areas.  The aim is to exchange ideas, to see what others are doing and to learn more.  Normally we arrange facilitators to come and train stakeholders on different subjects like Mineral Identification, Health and Safety in Mining areas, Exhibitions etc.  It was very successful but for the last two years we failed to  do it because of lack of finance as we mostly depend on our annual subscription fees. Up until now, we've always been able to finance the event, and once were assisted by the Ministry itself.  We are lobbying the government to treat this event as a National Day as we feel it is worth it to have this day and, if possible, not only for small scale miners but for all miners in Tanzania.
This year we also represented Women in Mining in Tanzania and Outside Tanzania at mining and gem conferences in South Africa, Rwanda, Philippines, Madagascar, China, Mongolia and Mozambique.

The Raw Stone: What particular problems in Tanzania does TAWOMA help to fix?
Shamsa: Women had no courage to own mining plots up until now. Since they were members of  TAWOMA they are able and have the courage to own mining plots and the ability to mine. Women now also have the ability to travel out of the country to sell their stones and own a Master Dealers Licence.

The Raw Stone: Are there are other organizations like TAWOMA in Africa? If so, what are they and how does TAWOMA work together with them?
Shamsa: Other organizations in Africa I know like TAWOMA are: TAITA Women in Mining – Kenya, SAWIMA (South African Women in Mining) – South Africa, and SADC Women in Mining – AFRICA. We work together in exchanging ideas through meetings, exhibitions and study tours. Tanzania also is a SADC Country so we do meet in several meetings.

The Raw Stone: How do you see TAWOMA progressing in the future?
Shamsa: In the future, TAWOMA can create more employments for youth and women. It can also change the livelihood of women through the mining sector, and it can boost Tanzania's general economy.

The Raw Stone: What do you think are the most important problems to address in gemstone mining and production?
Shamsa: The important problems to address in gemstones and production are maintaining modern mining machinery, high technology in mining, value addition in gemstones, and updated gemstones tools and machineries for cutting and polishing.

The Raw Stone: Do you feel that gemstone mining and production has become more ethical over time? If so, how?
Shamsa: The gemstones mines are 100% traceable. We work together with good understanding from miners, brokers and gemstone dealers, we know where the stones are coming from, we know who cuts the stones, and we share profits for the stones.

The Raw Stone: What stones does TAWOMA typically have available?
Shamsa: As TAWOMA members are all over Tanzania where you can face mining activities, so we can get several stones such as Tanzanite, Red Garnets, Rhodolite, Sunstone, Amethyst, Zircon, Sunset Tourmaline, Black Tourmaline, Green Tourmaline (not many), Green Garnet, Aquamarine, Spinel, White Topaz, Ruby High Cabochon and Emerald.

The Raw Stone: How can consumers help organizations like TAWOMA?
Shamsa: Consumers can help TAWOMA by:
Buying their products
Promoting their business
Assisting to solve their major problems
Promoting TAWOMA members with their products

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