Women in Mining

Among many other things, Rwanda has firmly cemented its reputation as one of the most gender-sensitive countries in the world. With women holding the most seats in parliament; 61% in the Chamber of Deputies and 36% in the Senate, Rwanda cultivates an environment suitable for them to work, lead and thrive in all sectors, including mining.

Rwanda’s mining sector has seen a significant rise in the number of women taking interest and joining the industry in all aspects. According to figures published in March 2021 by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), 11.4% of workers across all thirty districts are women. 22 of these women own mines and quarrying businesses as company shareholders and cooperative members, 20 are environmental officers, 23 are graduated mining engineers and geologists, and 43 are field technicians. Although the majority of the workforce are still men, these numbers continue to rise as more women are inspired by their predecessors.

They are also encouraged by the availability of mining programs and courses at learning institutions like the University of Rwanda (School of Mining & Geology) and IPRC Kigali, and the establishment of gender-sensitive mining laws, regulations, and policies that the Rwandan government has put in place.

Gender policies have been effective in promoting equality in Rwanda’s mining sector, as demonstrated by several companies that have quickly implemented them. These have gone beyond simply employing women to building Early Childhood Development centers and clinics nearby to enable those with children to keep working without worry.

Furthermore, mining companies have integrated mechanized mining methods that have made vigorous processes such as digging tunnels, transporting and washing ore materials more bearable and manageable for women. This has led to a significant increase in previously reluctant women joining the mining sector.

Companies are also adopting Rwanda’s SGBV policy that has been making outstanding progress nationally in other sectors, to promote the socio-economic development of women in the mining sector, and as a result, women continue to feel safer in the environments they work in, as companies that violate this policy are held accountable.

To promote the economic empowerment of women in the mining sector, the setting up of the National Women’s Council (NWC) looks to diversify economic activities for women and provide financial literacy. Meanwhile, the women in the mining sector are adopting local best practices in founding and managing saving groups that are increasing their economic well-being.

Although some obstacles such as gender stereotypes associated with the unfamiliarity with women’s participation in mining still exist, Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board continues to identify and sort out the challenges women in mining face, and implement solutions that ensure they are empowered, protected, facilitated, and encouraged to participate equally with the men.

To ensure Rwanda’s success in the mining sector in terms of gender equality, Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), with support from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and other stakeholders, joined efforts to develop a gender strategy for Rwanda’s mining sector. The strategy includes measures to promote the advancement of women in the mining and quarry workforce, and in the ownership of the same businesses. It can be accessed through this link t3://file?uid=1950