Overcoming the challenges of underrepresentation and gender bias in the male-dominated mining industry has been a big part of Donatha Kariko’s life’s work.

The daughter of a domestic worker who lost her father at a young age, Kariko, who works as a Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC) Assistant at Osino Resources, says she’s witnessed first-hand how women are not taken seriously in many professions and have to work harder than men to prove themselves. This has just made her more determined to change the status quo.

The youngest of five, Kariko dreamed of being a veterinarian as a child, but was forced to change course after her father, who worked as an operator at TransNamib, was involved in a work-related accident that left him hospitalised with a severe leg injury.

“I was six years old then, and he never recovered from the injury he sustained in the accident. Despite receiving medical attention, he passed on in September 2011. Financial constraints were a reality and I had to select a career that would allow me to help support the family,” she says.

“I transformed my grief into motivation to pursue a career as a safety officer. I honour his memory by contributing positively to the well-being of others by
ensuring safety in the workplace.”

At Osino she has found a supportive environment in which to pursue this ambition. In her role, she works to ensure strict adherence to health, safety, and environment legislative requirements and company policies, standards, and procedures.

Additionally, she says that she strives to uplift and inspire those around her to overcome their own challenges and strive for a better future. This is something that she learned from a very young age.

“My mother tirelessly provided for our needs when I was growing up, including food, clothing, and education. Her unwavering determination and sacrifices paved the way for a brighter future for all of us,” Kariko said. This taught me the value of resilience, determination, and empathy; three character traits that have been integral to my success, guiding me through life’s trials and empowering me to make a positive impact on both my family and my community.”

Now a mother herself, Kariko says she successfully navigates the responsibilities of family and career through careful planning and effective delegation.

“I prioritise and schedule my day, allocating time for both family and work obligations. Luckily, I have a strong support network, relying on my partner, family members, and trusted childcare providers to assist with tasks when necessary.”

She advised those wishing to pursue any career to consider doing the same. “Surround yourself with supportive and empowering individuals who will uplift and encourage you along your journey,” she says.

“Additionally, I encourage women to network with professionals already working in the industry and seek mentorship opportunities to gain valuable insights and guidance,” she said. “It is important to thoroughly research and understand the profession that you are interested in and ensure you have the necessary qualifications, skills, and experience required for success.”

But planning is not everything. We need to stay flexible too, believes Kariko.
“As women, we also need to take risks, embrace challenges, and believe in our abilities. It’s never too late to start all over or make a change.”

“Remember, success is not defined by how many times you fall, but by how many times you rise after each setback. Keep striving for greatness, and never give up on your dreams!”