Report calls for overhaul in mining laws to include women

Lusaka, Zambia, 25 August 2015 (ECA) - A new report on Women in Artisanal and Small Mining (ASM) in Africa has called for a policy overhaul in the mining sector for inclusive and active participation of women. The research project, a partnership between ECA and UN Women aimed at contributing to the diversification of the mining sector in Africa to include women as a necessary for economic empowerment and social transformation.

Preliminary findings of the report, which includes case studies from Zambia, Tanzania, DRC, Ghana and Guinea-Conakry found that the legal and policy framework in the mining and extractive industries made it difficult for active participation and inclusion of women in those sectors. Access to affordable capital financing was the single most constraint for women miners says the report.

Speaking during a national review meeting in Lusaka, ECA Coordinator for Africa Centre for Gender, Thokozile Ruzvidzo said that the participation of women in the economic sector and specifically the extractive industries was central to Africa’s structural transformation. “There is interplay between gender equality and Africa’s structural transformation and ECA has identified women entrepreneurship in the agriculture and extractive industries as priority.”

In the Zambian case study, the report found little participation of women miners in the production and trade of gemstones at the international market “whilst gemstones produced in Zambia, in particular, emeralds and amethysts are widely traded in international markets, women miners are not making a significant contribution to the reported production of the gemstones” reads the report in part. 

The report recommends the establishment of a clear policy direction for the ASM sub-sector. “In particular artisanal mineral rights should be positioned for progression into small and large scale mining.” The report further calls for change in the current 2-year term renewable artisanal mineral right which it says is not commercially sustainable because it “entrenches artisanal mining as a subsistence activity that poses a risk to both miners and the environment” says the report.

The report also recommends that government facilitates easier access to surface rights so that miners can increase opportunities to diversify mining with other agricultural activities. According to the report, most women miners were “absentee miners” conducting mining on part time and non residential basis. For most women miners, mining were seasonal, ad-hoc and not a primary source of income.

Ruzvidzo said that the research project was aimed at reviewing existing policy, legal and regulatory frameworks in the mining sector, to propose recommendations that integrate gender equality and equity in mining policies, laws, regulations, standards and codes in order to advance women’s economic participation and economic empowerment. The study also examines a wide range of potential financing mechanisms for small-scale mining operations with a view to up-scale them to commercially viability entities.


The African mining landscape is dominated and profited by huge multinational corporations to the exclusion of majority of Africans particularly women and young people.

The launch of the AMDC in December 2013 in Mozambique was touted as a new page in the history and management the of the continent’s mineral wealth. The AMDC is mandated to implement the African Mining Vision which calls and foresees a mining sector that is safe, gender and ethnically inclusive, environmental friendly and socially responsible.  

The two-day meeting held on 24th-25th August 2015 is part of a series of review meetings with stakeholders in above countries to discuss findings of the report. The Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines opened and participated in the meeting.

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