Sector Programme
Extractives and Development
ASM Arbeiterin mit Baby

Environment, Climate and Society Strengthening Gender Justice in the Extractive Sector

The mining industry is traditionally associated with heavy manual-intensive labor. However, women and girls make up between 30-50 % of the workforce in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), depending on country and company. In large-scale mining (LSM), about 10 % of the workforce is female.

Whether directly employed in mining or as members of surrounding communities, resource extraction has direct and indirect impacts on women and girls - direct due to poor working and employment conditions in the mines, indirect as they are the ones mainly affected by the socio-environmental impacts of mining.

Problem: Women and girls are disproportionately more exposed to negative impacts of mining while benefitting less from positive impacts.

Negative effects of mining:

  • Migration of workers to mining regions, where state structures are often weak, puts women at risk of sexual assault. This also increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • In mining areas, women are predominantly involved in agriculture and livestock farming and are therefore exposed to health and economic risks through the potential contamination of soil and water.
  • In many countries, women do not have the right to a formal land title and therefore do not receive compensation when land is expropriated for mining activities. With the loss of their agricultural land, they lose all means of livelihood.

Positive effects from which women & girls benefit less:

  • Women benefit less from well-paid direct and indirect employment in mining. Women in mining are not only paid less than men. They also hardly get a chance to qualify or participate in training. Due to the often-prevailing superstition that women in mines are bad luck, they are predominantly employed in small-scale mines to process the raw material with products that arise serious health hazards for them and potentially their unborn children.
  • Women benefit less from development investments financed by mining taxes. According to studies, men are more likely to invest in large infrastructure projects, while women invest in education and health, which has a more sustainable impact on the community.
  • They are less likely to own businesses that benefit from demand for suppliers.
  • Women are often excluded from participation processes. They do not have a voice in mining and community forums on mining policy issues.

However, women are not solely victims of the mining sector, nor are they a homogeneous group in their experiences. Many women actively choose to work in mining or in roles adjacent to the mining sector. Implemented responsibly, the extractive sector offers enormous economic potential for many developing and emerging countries. Women and girls should also be able to benefit from this. They should be able to work in and around mines on an equal footing, safely and without violence.

Sector Programme commitment

Gender equality is an effective means of combating this injustice. In June 2021, for example, the German government adopted the third Third National Action Plan (External link) for the implementation of the “Women, Peace and Security” Agenda (2021 to 2024), in which gender issues in mining are also an important topic. The action plan is part of Germany's commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda (External link).

The Sector Programme “Extractives and Development” is also committed to strengthening gender equality in the raw materials sector. This is done, among other things, by raising awareness of the issue, preparing best practices and developing solutions and recommendations for action. Through interactive formats, studies (External link), webinars (External link) and videos (External link), the sector project works to combat discrimination against women in the mining sector.

In addition, the Sector Programme actively supports the multi-stakeholder partnership Women’s Rights and Mining (WRM) (External link) on behalf of the BMZ. The WRM is an international multi-stakeholder group (MSG) made up of representatives of governments, international non-governmental organizations and researchers. Its aim is to encourage key stakeholders in the mining sector to address the issue of gender equality and to strengthen the rights of women and girls in the mining sector.

Promoting gender equality (SDG 5 (External link)) is a characteristic of quality of German development cooperation. In the extractive sector, empowering women and girls is one of the best ways to achieve positive economic and inclusive social development outcomes.

Environment, Climate and Society
ASM-Arbeiter in Sierra Leone

Indigenous Rights and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in the Mining Sector Internal link

The sector programme supports with its activities the implementation of indigenous rights and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to create a responsible supply chains and a sustainable mining sector.

Environment, Climate and Society
Kohletagebau Garzweiler

Climate-sensitive Mining Internal link

The growing global demand for raw materials offers opportunities for resource-rich developing and emerging economies, but also presents them with challenges: Without climate and environmentally friendly mining practices, negative impacts of mining may increase, the climate footprint may be burdened and the environment in surrounding communities affected.

Environment, Climate and Society
Mine in Peru

Environment and Mining Internal link

Deforestation, pollution of water, air and soil or the loss of biodiversity are potential consequences of raw material extraction. The Sector Programme works to minimise environmental risks in mining.

Local Value Addition
Engineers working on machines

Digitization in the Extractive Sector Internal link

Digitalization is on the rise in the extractive sector. While digital innovations in the mining sector provide hope for improved governance, they also pose a potential threat to local jobs. Find out more about digitization in the extractive sector and how the “Extractives and Development” sector programme is dealing with opportunities and challenges arising from the use of digital technologies at mine sites.