Advancing Gender Equality: Women's inclusion and participation in the sustainable development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

In November, GRA had the honor to represent Uganda at the East Africa Law Society (EALS) symposium organized to validate findings from an EALS study on Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in the East African region. The study is the flagship research of the Supporting Inclusive Resource Development (SIRD) in East Africa project with support from Global Affairs Canada. 

The symposium deliberations focused on policy recommendations for sustainable development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in the East African region. There is considerable potential for policy responses and interventions if underpinned with a robust institutional capacity to monitor the sector, to play a more significant role to help address the multifaceted challenges of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining. 

The key takeaway from the symposium was the urgent need to mainstream gender equity considerations- specifically, integrating gender impact assessments in ASM formalization processes from the on-set. Women provide a unique view of ASM's gendered impact and risks. For example, we know from experience that women are much more likely to be engaged in informal, artisanal, and small-scale mining. Women constitute an integral part of artisanal and small-scale mining, taking on panning and processing roles to trading goods and services. However, they are often the poorest and most exploited laborers—and perform the most insecure and dangerous tasks, often with limited or no rights to protection from their employers, despite social and environmental risks. As a result, they often bear the brunt of adverse social-economic and environmental effects. Therefore, we cannot take it as a given that women will automatically benefit in the same way men do. Moreover, women's experiences of disparities within the ASM industry are profoundly intersectional, as they are often affected by overlapping inequalities. 

Participants further cited the need to define a roadmap from a national and regional standpoint to help us make meaningful progress on longstanding challenges facing ASM communities and harness the opportunities. Similarly, better coordination among those working in this sector will be vital for long-term success. In 2022, GRA remains poised to capitalize on similar opportunities to secure more formal commitments on gender equity in the context of artisanal and small-scale mining. In addition, we remain committed to amplifying the voice and experiences of women in the ASM in decision-making processes in an industry where women often benefit the least.