Social and ecological aspects

Strengthening gender equality in the extractive sector

Woman in ASM in Kono (Westafrica)

The mining sector has different impacts on women and girls than it has on men. Women suffer more from the negative consequences of mining, such as the pollution of the cattle and arable land they tend - and the danger of diseases. They are also less likely to benefit from its positive effects, such as access to well-paid jobs. When it comes to gender inequality, mining is still one of the most unequal industries in the world.


  • In many countries women have no right to a formal land title. This means they receive no compensation when land is expropriated for mining activities. With the loss of their agricultural land, they lose their livelihoods - the basis for their subsistence.
  • Women are threatened with sexual assault by workers migrating through mining regions, where state structures are often weak. This also increases the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases.
  • Women in mining areas mainly carry out agriculture and livestock farming and are therefore exposed to health and economic risks through the contamination of soil and water.
  • Due to the frequently-prevailing superstition that women in mines bring bad luck, their main task is to process the raw materials of extracted in small mines using substances that are harmful to health which causes serious problems for them and for their unborn children.
  • Women in mining are not only paid less than men, they hardly get a chance to qualify for or to participate in further training & education.
  • They rarely own companies that benefit from the demand for suppliers.
  • Women benefit less from development investments financed from mining taxes. Studies have shown that men tend to invest in large infrastructure projects, whereas women are more likely to invest in education and health, which has a more sustainable impact on the community.
  • Women are frequently excluded from co-determination processes. They have no voices in community forums on questions of mining policy.
  • Migrating miners frequently leave women behind in non-mining regions, where they must often take care of their families alone. The absence of the male population in the region reduces the market for agricultural products produced by women, resulting in even more loss of income for the abandoned women.

Gender-equality in action

Gender equality is an effective remedy for this injustice. This is why the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has drawn up a development policy Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016-2020, which also focuses on gender equality in mining. The plan is part of Germany`s commitment to the implmentation of the 2030 Agenda.

The sector programme actively supports the Women's Rights and Mining Working Group (WRMWG) on behalf of BMZ. The WRMWG is an international multi-stakeholder partnership (MSP) of representatives of governments, international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and researchers. Its aim is to encourage the most important interest groups in the mining sector to take a closer look at the issue of gender equality and to empower the rights of women and girls in the mining industry. Among other items, the programme publishes reports and studies for governments, organisations and companies to reduce gender risk and gender-specific prejudice in the mining sector. To raise awareness of the issue, the programme also organises gender events at international mining conferences and other events. It also comments on international standards and publishes position papers.


Reports and studies on gender equality in the extractive industry

High Grade Media Special Video Series on "Gender Equality in Mining"

The Extracives and Developmnt secorprogramme was comissioned by the BMZ to support the High Grade Media Special Video Series on "Gender Equality in Mining". This video series interviews women and men from different sectors (business, civil society and academia) related to the mining industry about their experiences with gender equality in the industry.

The linked video is a compliation of the individual videos.


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Gender & Mining Encyclopedia

The encyclopedia provides a good overview of the stakeholders, initiatives and programmes involved in this field of activity, and you will aslo find new ideas for future projects and cooperations. Click here for the Encyclopedia.

Gender Safeguards for the Kimberleyprocess

The Kimberley Process is a voluntary agreement between governments, civil society and the diamond industry to stop the trade with "conflict diamonds". Conflict diamonds, also known as "blood diamonds", are rough, uncut diamonds. The proceeds from their sale are used by rebel groups or their allies to finance armed conflict. The studies on this topic give practical recommendations as to how gender can be more intensively integrated into the work content and governance structures of the Kimberley reform process on national and global levels. Read more.

Gender Equality in Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships

Nowadays, global approaches to solutions for extractives must be carried out in a participatory manner and on a trans-national basis. The sector programme relies on multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSP) in the extractive sector. In order to make MSPs as inclusive as possible, the Extractives and Development sector programme commissioned a baseline study on gender equality. Among other topics, the study also highlights the multi-stakeholder partnerships EITI and IRMA. The Gender in Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships (MSP) baseline study can be accessed here.



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