Gender, Agency and Decision Making in Community Engagement: Reflections from Afghanistan’s Mes Aynak Mine


Rickard, Sophie. 2020. “Gender, Agency and Decision Making in Community Engagement: Reflections from Afghanistan’s Mes Aynak Mine.” The Extractive Industries and Society 7 (2): 435–45. 

Author: Sophie Rickard


This paper explores what constitutes meaningful participation of women in community consultation processes of extractive operations, through a case study of the Mes Aynak Copper Mine resettlement in Afghanistan. It aims to better understand the factors that enable and constrain women’s agency and ability to effectively influence decisions; and how the understanding of gender and culture in Afghanistan by key stakeholders’ influences women’s participation in the sector. Through a review of the literature and key Mes Aynak project documents, as well as interviews with experts, practitioners and civil society, the paper unpacks women’s participation in community engagement processes, drawing on Arnstein’s ladder of participation (Arnstein, 1969) as a basis to explore women’s participation. It explores the role of gender and culture in determining outcomes and provides reflections on how to improve women’s meaningful participation in Afghanistan’s extractive industries. Crucially, it was found that there is a need to critically examine how key sector stakeholders understand and engage with cultural norms around women’s participation in the sector; as well as the need to work with the Citizens Charter programme to reinforce inclusion and avoid the sector exacerbating existing inequalities.

Keywords: community engagement, resettlement, Afghanistan, extractive industries, mining, participation

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2020

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