Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in Mining


Since 2016, KIT Royal Tropical Institute—through the Gender Resource Facility—has supported the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop a global leadership role to facilitate experience sharing and policy influencing on gender equality integration in the mining sector.

Check out our 2019 Statement on Implementing Gender-Responsive Due Diligence and Ensuring the Human Rights of Women in Mineral Supply Chains.

Why gender matters in the mining world

All over the world, mineral production and mineral supply chains are recognised for their potential to catalyse economic growth and spur development. A growing body of evidence, however, suggests that current mining policy and practice can actually worsen gender inequalities if gender concerns are not adequately considered. Although every site, community and context is unique, every facet of the mining sector differently impacts and benefits women and men. These gender differences can be found at all levels, from production sites, in mining-affected communities, in local and national economies, upwards across mineral supply chains and in all institutions involved – from government offices and company boardrooms to mine sites and households.

Growing momentum on gender equality in the minerals sector

Therefore, interest has been growing in addressing gender and mining issues in artisanal and small-scale mining as well as in the formal large-scale mining sector. Many international stakeholders have become active in this field, such as the World Bank, the OECD, GiZ and Global Affairs Canada. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs also finances a number of projects on gender and mining by Dutch and international civil society organisations.

Positioning the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a leader in gender and mining

Beginning in 2016, the Gender Resource Facility (GRF) conducted a study for the Ministry on gender in artisanal and small-scale mining in the African Great Lakes Region. The study aimed to advance gender equality in the Dutch-funded Scaling up Minerals Traceability Project, and it recommended that the Ministry contribute to defining a comprehensive strategy to advance gender equality in the minerals sector.

The GRF subsequently engaged in two assignments to assist the Ministry to realise this ambition. The assignments focused on:

  • Mapping and convening key actors and initiatives on gender and mining in the Netherlands and globally (2016-2017)
  • Supporting the Ministry’s Inclusive Green Growth Department in establishing and operating a community of practice on women’s rights and mining (2017-2018)

Who is active at the nexus of gender and mining?

Following the study on gender dimensions in the mining sector, GRF undertook work to map and convene key actors and initiatives on gender and mining in the Netherlands and globally. The Ministry and GRF convened a Learning and Sharing meeting which brought together participants from across government, private sector and civil society. This meeting demonstrated that multiple Dutch actors have expertise working at the nexus of gender and mining in a range of different geographies and in different thematic areas.

Building on this meeting, GRF prepared a quick scan of eight actors and alliances in the Netherlands and ten actors internationally, who were featured based on their strategic engagement in gender and mining. The quick scan can be accessed here.

Furthermore, as a concrete follow-up to the Learning and Sharing meeting a community of practice dedicated to gender and mining was established. Thus in early 2017, the Women’s Rights and Mining Working Group (WRMWG) came into being as a collaborative effort of NGOs, researchers and the Ministry to secure commitments from key stakeholders in the mining sector to address key gender concerns. Members of the group included MFA, Action Aid The Netherlands, Simavi and Solidaridad – as well as GRF.

Strengthening the influence of the Women’s Rights and Mining Working Group

From 2017 onwards, GRF’s assistance focused on strengthening the visibility, outreach and influence of the Ministry-led WRMWG. The working group developed guidance materials such as “10 DO Fact Sheets” for different minerals sector audiences (which can be accessed here). The WRMWG also organised policy-influencing events including a Gender Session at the OECD Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains in 2017 and 2018. The WRMWG furthermore advocated for gender equality integration into the code of conduct of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and the Risk Portal of the OECD.

The Mission & Vision of WRMWG

Mission: To generate momentum and action among and by different stakeholders in support of women’s rights in mines and in mining affected communities.

Vision: A mining sector and mining-affected communities in which women, men and children benefit equally and enjoy all rights enshrined in international recognized human rights standards and regulations.

Women’s Rights and Mining

In 2018, the working group attracted new international members (Global Affairs Canada, GiZ), institutionalised a functioning governance structure and established a new identity as ‘Women’s Rights and Mining’.

As a collective, Women Rights and Mining continues to promote sharing and learning on gender and mining in the Netherlands and internationally. It has increased its efforts to influence international mining standards and instruments with comments sent to six leading policy-setting organizations in 2018 including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the London Metals Exchange. As a result, Women’s Rights and Mining is gaining increased recognition and there is a growing willingness of international members to invest in the initiative.

Women’s Rights and Mining has succeeded in making good progress towards its mission. Awareness of gender concerns in the minerals sector and how to address them has been promoted amongst diverse actors, and a lot of interest in and support to gender integration into mining and mineral supply chains has been generated.

What is the Gender Resource Facility?

The GRF was established in mid-2014 and was operated by a consortium of KIT Royal Tropical Institute and Femconsult. It was formed at the request of the Dutch Taskforce on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. The GRF was the sole source of expert advice, technical assistance and knowledge services on gender equality and women’s rights to the Ministry, its embassies and partners. It consisted of a secretariat and a pool of specialists that undertook assignments at the request of the Ministry.