Women in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector of the Democratic Republic of the Congo


Hayes, Karen, and Rachel Perks. 2011. “Women in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” In High-Value Natural Resources and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. London: Earthscan.

Authors: Rachel Perks, Karen Hayes


"This chapter focuses on women who work and live in the diverse, complex, and often-neglected artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) communities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). ASM encompasses both the manual extraction and processing of minerals and their subsequent trade. Much of ASM is informal, and it is often characterized by dangerous practices and harmful social and environmental impacts. Although many ASM communities have existed for years or even centuries, other communities have begun to engage in mining relatively recently, mostly as a result of poverty" (Hayes and Perks, 2012,  529).

“ASM (Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining) supports 16 to 20 percent of the population of the DRC and is a critical economic driver in the country’s move out of war (World Bank 2008)” (529).

“As currently practiced in the DRC, however, ASM is inefficient because the technical skills required to identify, plan, develop, and exploit mines to their full potential are lacking. As a consequence, ASM ends up degrading the overall value of the ore body while simultaneously consuming or contaminating other resources—such as wood, land, and water—which could be essential to livelihoods once the ore is exhausted” (532).

“The research also found that women’s involvement in ASM was primarily poverty driven: 75 percent of the women interviewed in 2007 had been mining for less than two years, and 70 percent were their families’ sole earners (Pact 2007)” (533).

“Pact regards ASM areas as crucial to the overall peacebuilding agenda for DRC for the following reasons:

"ASM offers the potential for substantial economic dividends for both individuals and families—dividends that could be even more significant if ASM were properly organized and responsibly managed.

"Women working in ASM face significant social and health consequences whose long-term impact remains unknown. Increasing security for women and ensuring that ASM meets basic health and safety standards would help mitigate negative impacts and potentially increase women’s productivity in the sector.

"The ASM sector remains subject to resource governance conflicts that are pertinent to the DRC’s larger peacebuilding agenda. For example, several reports published by Pact and International Alert address the importance of improving governance to ensure more equitable remuneration for artisanal miners (Pact 2010; Spittaels 2010). Women’s concerns are intricately linked to this overall reform agenda” (p. 540).

Topics: Armed Conflict, Development, Economies, Poverty, Environment, Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Peacebuilding Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2011

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