FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 22, 2022
FQM LEVELS PLAYING FIELD FOR GIRLS
SOLWEZI, ZAMBIA – Over 3,500 girls across 28 schools in Solwezi District of North-Western Province have been given a chance to compete favourably with their male counterparts in their academic studies thanks to First Quantum Minerals’ Jimuka (‘Be Clever’) programme.
Since 2018, Jimuka has reached girls in and out of school through workshops and donating hygiene packages. The programme was created in response to the realisation that many girls were falling behind in their education, as they would spend up to five days out of school every month while on their periods.
The introduction of reusable sanitary pads has helped to improve the performance of the female pupils, giving them an equal opportunity with their male counterparts. And the mining firm has noted with concern that despite the country making progress in promoting girls’ education, with more girls getting equal access to school, girls’ education is still heavily impacted by traditional practices and high poverty levels that hinder girls from completing their schooling.
“Because they miss at least 16 days of the year in a school calendar year, which is quite a lot, making them not compete very well with the boys, we had to find a sustainable way of keeping the girls in class so that they can get a good education,” said Jimuka co-ordinator and Kansanshi Mining Gender Programmes Officer Pamela Chanda.
Each year thousands of girls across the country are forced to drop out of school as they are coerced to marry at a very young age, while those that escape this vice are likely to miss class because they cannot afford to buy sanitary wear, affecting their performance, she explained.
“Each hygiene pack we donate contains toiletries, resealable disposable bags, and reusable cotton chitenge pads made by a local tailor, among other items meant to help the girls stay in class during that time of the month.”
“During the workshops, our largely teenage attendees listen to talks meant to inspire and guide them through adolescence. Various speakers and mentors are invited to discuss common adolescent health issues, teenage pregnancies, and the importance of staying in school. We also include hands-on sessions where the girls are taught how to make the chitenge pads on their own. This is to ensure that these hygiene products remain affordable and accessible to the girls who need them most,” Ms Chanda explained.
She added that the mining firm was also a member of the district and the provincial working technical groups where they discuss adolescent health and other issues concerning adolescents.
FQM has aligned its community initiatives with every one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a move that puts the mining giant at the forefront of best practices in private sector social investment locally and globally.
Goal 4 – to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all – encompasses FQM’s extensive education programmes at both its Kansanshi and Sentinel Mines, including the Kansanshi Quality Education Improvement Programme (KanEQuIP), support for Early Childhood Education (ECED), Solwezi Trades Training programmes and numerous school projects.
Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, something FQM addresses through its gender-based violence prevention campaigns, One-Stop Centre, campaigns to end child marriages, various women empowerment initiatives, and a policy of equal pay and equal opportunity in employment.
About First Quantum Minerals Ltd
First Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.
In 2021, First Quantum globally produced 816,435 tonnes of copper, 312,492 ounces of gold and 16,818 tonnes of nickel.
In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine and smelter in Solwezi and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.
The company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
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