Democratic Republic of Congo is traditionally a patriarchal society, where decision makers are most often men. Yet, women are organizing to have their voices heard. They are coming together to ensure their needs and security concerns are addressed.

In Kamituga, a mining town in the territory of Mwenga in South Kivu Province, the newly established Local Committee for the Security and Empowerment of Women in Artisanal Mining, is raising awareness among local decision makers on the need to prioritize women’s safety and empowerment in the artisanal mining sector.

Supported by Bukavu-based civil society group Réseau d’Innovation Organisationelle (RIO), the committee was formed in 2021 with both women and men members across difference sectors. Through the Digging for Equality project, the group has been meeting with decision makers, state agencies, and customary authorities in the community.

IMPACT’s Digging for Equality project aims to improve security, gender equality, and women’s empowerment in the artisanal mining sectors across three countries—Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The project supports women working in the artisanal mining sector to reduce the barriers that they face and support their efforts towards gender equality.

The newly formed committee is already making strides to support women in the town.

Kamituga’s Mayor has spoken out in favour the group and affirmed his commitment to its mandate. He took action by appointing two women as neighbourhood leaders, participate in neighbourhood forums, and work closely with police. The Mayor has also invited the committee to participate in the weekly security meeting at Town Hall. This demonstrates the Mayor’s and Kamituga Town Hall’s pledge to continue collaboration to improve women’s security across the community.

The committee has also met with state agencies including police services, as well as the local representative to the armed forces (FARDC). They have affirmed their commitment to women’s security at mine sites and the community, with the FARDC requesting the committee share future security incidents with them.

While challenges still remain, leadership in support of women is visible at the highest level in the town.

When a woman was hired as a clerk at Town Hall and faced resistance from male co-workers, the Mayor requested the committee hold a meeting on the importance of women’s leadership and gender equality.

Currently, the committee is continuing to raise awareness on women’s rights within mine sites and the community. It is also working with provincial and local mining authorities to improve women’s access to the formalization process.

For more information about the Digging for Equality project, visit IMPACT’s website.

The Digging for Equality project is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.

Photo by Moses Sawasawa: Mining in Kamituga, Democratic Republic of Congo