Empowering women in mining

Tapping into the potential of artisanal and small-scale mining to improve the economic and social situation of women in Africa.

The rapid growth of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in Africa has created new opportunities for women to earn a living. In Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, Burkina Faso and Mali, women make up a high proportion of the people working in mining. However, the sector remains dominated by men. ASM is informal and unregulated, with inadequate health, safety and environmental protections, and weak integration into local economies, markets and regional mineral value chains.

Given the growing presence of women in ASM, the Oxfam Pan Africa Programme is working to enhance the economic and social benefits for women while raising the profile of their contribution. We have introduced the Women’s Economic Empowerment in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (WEE in ASM) initiative as part of a broader strategy of supporting continental and global initiatives (such as the Africa Mining Vision) aimed at reforms in the sector.

Women’s Economic Empowerment in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

The WEE in ASM initiative creates a platform to promote the interests of women in the sector and explore opportunities to tackle issues affecting them. It enables us to amplify women’s voices in national, regional and global policy-making and governance. Through the initiative, we can support the implementation of the Africa Mining Vision through Country Mining Visions in focal countries, to support the advancement of women.

Sharing knowledge

Our Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Support Programme team is organising a series of knowledge-exchange visits and capacity building programmes, as well as carrying out research to identify technical support needs in focal countries undergoing ASM reforms.

We recently organised the first knowledge-exchange visit for participants from Malawi and Zambia with support from Oxfam Australia and funding from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The visit, in Accra between 25 and 30 June, provided the opportunity for participants to learn from successful initiatives in the ASM sector in Ghana. Participants included policy-makers, miners and decision-makers from the Ministries of Mines and Gender in Zambia and Malawi, along with key Oxfam staff.

What’s next?

We plan to support the efforts of women miners and sector professionals, policy-makers and practitioners in Zambia, Ghana and Malawi to advance ASM reforms related to women’s economic empowerment. This will build capacity and establish long-term relationships between the various stakeholders in these countries.

We will:

  • meet the needs for technical support highlighted during the exchange visit
  • maximise the business opportunity created with Ghana’s Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) in exporting gemstones to Ghana
  • train members of the Malawi Women in Mining Association in gemstone polishing and jewellery making at the Gemstone Processing & Lapidary Training Centre in Zambia
  • support the Lapidary Training Centre in Zambia to collaborate with PMMC to establish a lapidary-gemstone cutting and polishing center in Ghana 
  • explore the creation of a continental network of women in the ASM sector, starting with Zambia, Ghana and Malawi.

For more information, contact Richard Hato-Kuevor, Extractive Industry Advisor & Economic Justice Lead, richard.hato-kuevor@oxfam.org