Sector Programme
Extractives and Development
Rutondo Mining Site

29.09.2022 Gender equality in artisanal and small-scale mining: Progress in the Great Lakes Region

Women play an important role in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), accounting for approximately 50% of the total workforce in Africa. However, the visibility and recognition of their vital contribution to the sector remains low. In collaboration with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), GIZ implemented a project to integrate gender mainstreaming in the mining sector.

On average, women represent 50%[1] (External link) of the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) workforce on the African continent. But the visibility and recognition of their vital contribution to the sector remains low: discussions around mining continue to focus mostly on the male-dominated parts of the value chain – which include mainly digging. Considering those activities directly take place on the mine site, the visibility of women who complete parts of the processing work in their homes instead of the mine sites is diminished[2] (External link).

Although mining policies and legislation are frequently perceived as “gender neutral”, they often give clear benefits to people with higher degrees of social standing, education, and/or greater financial resources - disproportionally often men. Women's mining work is devalued and limited by the gendered structuring of mining roles, which is seen in relation to women's disproportionate household and caregiving responsibilities. In response to this, GIZ implemented activities to support the integration of gender mainstreaming in the mining sector as part of its project supporting the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), an intergovernmental organisation comprising twelve Member States.

Unleashing potential for local communities and the economy

There is little doubt about the benefits of equal opportunity for men and women in the mining industry for businesses, families, and communities. Businesses with a more diverse workforce are likely to experience higher productivity, cut costs, and enhance their social license to operate in the respective local communities[3] (External link). Thus, the ICGLR Secretariat, with the support of GIZ, clearly articulates the need for a mining sector which is safe, socially responsible, and most importantly, gender inclusive. Workshops on Gender and Mining have resulted in the development of the ICGLR “Guidelines for Mainstreaming Gender in the Minerals Sector” to assist the twelve Member States in developing gender-responsive strategies for managing their respective mineral sectors.

National and regional players are making progress

On a national level, and with the support of the project, the Rwanda Mines and Petroleum Board developed a gender analysis as well as a strategy for gender mainstreaming in the mining sector. Through lively discussions and inputs from gender professionals, representatives from private entities were sensitised to the contents of these documents and the role and importance of gender mainstreaming. In addition, women who are working in the Rwandan mining sector took part in capacity building workshops and gained knowledge on the creation of gender-sensitive business plans. By actively shaping their roles in the sector, this measure supported female economic empowerment and equal participation.

The GIZ programme further developed a gender analysis and mainstreaming strategy for Uganda in a series of workshops, which stimulated rich discussions among participants of mining entities, capacitating them on gender equality and mining. The Directorate for Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM), which is part of the Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, participated in similar activities to be trained on gender mainstreaming in their line of work. Female economic empowerment also played a role in Uganda, with women developing business plans and focusing on their power and potential in the mining sector.

The fight for gender equality in the African ASM sector and recognition of women’s contributions has only just begun. The ICGLR and its Member States together with GIZ are paving the way for more inclusivity and respect for women in mining.

[1] (External link) Women in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining: Challenges and opportunities for greater participation | International Institute for Sustainable Development ( (External link)[2] (External link) Ibid.[3] (External link) Women in the mining sector: the value of the inclusion ( (External link)