The Digging for Equality project starts activities in Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda,
and Zimbabwe ahead of International Women’s Day

March 8, 2021—Bukavu/Harare/Kampala/Ottawa

IMPACT is partnering with Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) and Réseau d’Innovation Organisationnelle (RIO) to mark International Women’s Day with a new project to support gender equality in the artisanal mining sectors of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

The Digging for Equality project will support women working in the artisanal mining sector in the three countries to reduce barriers they face and support their efforts towards gender equality.

Previous research has shown women lack the access and skills to perform more remunerated and status enhancing tasks in mine sites, which would increase their participation in decision making and leadership roles. The project will build the capacity of local mining organizations and their members to improve economic benefits for women in the sector. The project will also promote women’s leadership at the mine site and community by supporting artisanal mining associations and cooperative to adopt more inclusive models.

The Digging for Equality project will support the following local mining associations:

  • In DRC: Association de lutte contre l’exploitation des femmes et enfants des mines (ALEFEM) based in South Kivu’s Mwenga Territory
  • In Uganda: Mubende Women Gold Miners Association (MUWOGOMA) and Mubende United Miners Assembly (MUMA) in Central Region
  • In Zimbabwe: Mberengwa Mining Development Trust (MMDT) and Zvishavane Women’s Mining Association (ZWMA) in Midlands Province

“Our research in DRC has shown that women play essential roles in artisanal mining, and yet they are often tasked with the lowest paying jobs at the mine site. The rely on income from artisanal mining to meet the needs of their households: pay for food, medical care, schooling, clothing, and in some cases, housing. This project offers women an important opportunity to strengthen their skills and access better paying roles at the mine sites, despite discriminatory practices and customs that weigh against them,” said Odile Bulabula, RIO’s Coordinator.

“Artisanal mining is an important source of income for women and men across Zimbabwe and the government has made many steps towards formalizing and professionalizing the sector. However, we have to ensure women miners are included in these decision making processes and are part of the leadership in mining communities. This project is an important step forward in ensuring women’s voices are heard,” said Nobuhle Mabhikwa, ZELA’s Project Officer.

At the local, provincial, and national levels, the Digging for Equality project will promote a legal and regulatory context to enhance women’s security, gender equality and their participation in the sector. Using IMPACT’s Toolkit: Gender Impact Assessments for Projects and Policies Relates to Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, policymakers across the three countries will be supported to reflect and act to ensure the laws, policies, and regulations affecting the ASM sector improve gender equality.

“Through this project, we have the opportunity to continue IMPACT’s work with policymakers in DRC and Uganda to analyze how policies and practices can be improved to support women’s empowerment in the artisanal mining sector. We’re excited to start this work in Zimbabwe to ensure women artisanal miners are part of decision making processes,” said Joanne Lebert, IMPACT’s Executive Director.

“RIO and ZELA both have decades of experience promoting improved practices in the artisanal mining sectors in DRC and Zimbabwe respectively. We have long-standing partnerships with both organizations and are confident that our collaboration together will have a meaningful impact on women’s livelihoods in the sector,” added Joanne Lebert, IMPACT’s Executive Director.

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

Read more about the Digging for Equality project here.


Media Contact:
Zuzia Danielski
Communications Director, IMPACT

IMPACT, formerly Partnership Africa Canada, transforms how natural resources are managed in areas where security and human rights are at risk. We investigate and develop approaches for natural resources to improve security, development, and equality. We are an independent non-profit collaborating with local partners for lasting change.

Réseau d’Innovation Organisationnelle (RIO) is a Congolese non-profit organization based in South Kivu. RIO works to promote peace, good governance, and social development in communities throughout the Great Lakes region.

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) formed in 2000, is a public interest environmental law group promoting environmental justice, sustainable and equitable use of natural resources, democracy and good governance in the natural resources and environment sector.