The CLARITY and Randstad team visiting GEWOMA for a monthly evaluation and reflection meeting at Mgusu, Geita region.

Bernadetha’s journey of resilience, advocacy and Leadership

Bernadetha is a small-scale miner with a disability that makes walking difficult. She is member of the Mgusu Women Miners Association in Geita. She started 15 years ago with mining gold, when she saw the benefits from it. When they formed the women miner’s association, they got their own land for mining from the government.  

She cannot live from mining alone. CLARITY helped her with establishing a women group to grow vegetables and fruits. CLARITY also provided training in human rights, women rights, leadership and to stand up for your rights. There is a myth that women cannot go up the hill for mining during their menstruation. They say the gold disappears then. With these trainings, the myth is now debunked.   

When the mining became profitable, men tried to take over the Mgusu association, saying women were not able to run the association. Together with the CLARITY team the group fought back. Bernadetha decided to take the case to the highest level. She went to the prime minister Kassim Majaliwa who’s is also a member of parliament from Ruangwa to complain and ask why her group was discriminated. The team prepared her to ask 3 questions: what are womens rights, can women own resources and can women perform mining activities.  The prime minister asked: do you have a degree? From unprivileged women like her he was not expecting such questions. Bernadette said she hasn’t, but the prime minister said, you cannot ask questions regardless of your level of education, you have an educated mind. The prime minister told the Regional Mining Commission to send a letter to the organisation to give back the land. And so it happened, but the land is too small. So, they rejected the offer, and are waiting now for a better offer.  

The Clarity program also brought her to give a presentation about her story at the Women Deliver conference in Rwanda this year. She learned there even more about women’s rights and leadership. And people learned from her, as a role model to dare to step up for your rights. Even a woman with a disability can get to talk to the prime minister. 

Bernadetha with Hellen Mahindi, VSO Gender Officer, at the Women Deliver Conference in Rwanda, 2023