Addressing Gender Gaps in Artisanal Mining Sector in Ethiopia


CIRDI’s SUMM project officer, Rahel Getachew, and the project’s expert, Chi Pam, spoke about de jure and de facto gender equality issues in the Ethiopian mining sector in the latest ‘Multiples’ bulletin edition. Read below:


“In terms of de jure gender equality, Ethiopia has a sound legal framework. Ethiopia has ratified the Convention on the Political Rights of Women, the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals. The country has also adopted the principles of the Beijing Platform for Action and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. These commitments are supported by the Constitution which promotes equal participation of women and men in political, social and economic spheres of life and underpins the National Policy of Women. Several other policies and laws have since been enacted or updated to increase women’s age of marriage to 18 years; afford women a share of assets following a dissolution of union; criminalize domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, abduction and early marriage; and create violence-free working environments.

In terms of de facto gender equality, Ethiopia is facing challenges. This is particularly the case of the Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) sector, despite the fact the Ethiopian government prioritised it as part of its national reform agenda and its commitment to develop the extractive sector through the Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTP II). The most salient gender issues identified include: women´s lack of involvement in high-level positions in ASM groups; unequal women’s participation in decision making and access to mining licences; women´s exposure to environmental pollution; women´s limited participation in community development activities and skills development initiative; and gender stereotyping. In addition to those issues, limited accountability on gender mainstreaming hinders the effective integration of gender in all areas and all levels of the ASM sector.

Non-gender neutral and/or gender-blind mining policies and laws have been identified as the key obstacles to the achievement of de facto gender equality in the ASM sector. A few examples of potential negative impacts of gender-neutral policies include: (1) ASM licensing requirements for cooperative formation that strengthen (and legitimize pre-existing) control of sites by men, resulting in unequal benefits and increased risks of harassment, intimidation, exploitation and other forms of violence; (2) Legal criteria for consultative processes that exclude the needs of women and vulnerable persons (e.g. location of roads, boreholes, and formulation of corporate social responsibility projects); (3) Compensation and resettlement processes because of exploration typically negotiated with male leaders, with women having little to say on issues that directly affect them (e.g. uprooting of crops for household consumption, disturbance to family unit because of relocation, use of compensations).

In order to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the ASM sector, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) has taken very concrete actions to incorporate gender equality considerations in indicators, implementation plans, and monitoring and evaluation across the ASM sector and the GTP II in general. Several interventions have been started, including strengthening of MoMP gender competence around legal and policy framework, building gender capacity and understanding among key MoMP decisionmakers and parliamentarians, and promoting women groups’ engagement in policy and legal reviews.”


Originally published in the ‘Multiples’ bulletin by the Just Governance Group in December 2019.