Gender and Extractives

10. Examples from Practice 

South Africa and Tanzania

Globally, steps are being taken to integrate gender considerations into the extractives sector and practice shows governments can successfully promote women’s involvement. In this section, we look at a few examples from practice, which show some positive steps being taken in this area.  

The extractives sector has long been considered man’s work and at points this has extended to legislation. In South Africa, the 1991 South African Minerals Act prevented women from working underground. However, in 2002 the South African Mining Charter was brought in, requiring mining companies to ensure that 10% of their total work force were women by the year 2009. 

This clearly demonstrates the important leading role governments can play in ensuring women’s participation in the extractives sector. However despite the gains made in this area, lack of enforcement of this provision has meant that the full potential has not been realised. For example, despite working with the IFC, women only comprised 6.8% of Lonmin’s workforce as of 2010.


In Tanzania, the government articulated a strong commitment to women’s participation in the 2009 Minerals Policy, stating an objective: ‘To encourage and promote women participation in mining activities and strengthen enforcement of laws and regulations against child labour in mining activities’ (see Tanzania's Mineral Policy). Including women’s participation as a policy objective is an important step; however it has not been translated into legislation in the 2010 Mining Act. Bringing gender considerations into law strengthens their application and the ability to enforce the provision. In addition, whilst focus on participation in the sector is important, governments must also considered the gender differentiated impacts the extractives sector can have at a community level. There is a role for policy and legislation in this area too.

Uganda and Mozambique

Analysis of Uganda’s oil sector by International Alert has shown negative outcomes for women (see International Alert, What’s in it for us? Gender issues in Uganda’s oil and gas sector). The legislation and governing institutions for the oil and gas sector are developed from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development’s (MEMD) National Oil and Gas Policy (NOGP). There has been significant civil society debate over lack of firm transparency commitments and what is perceived as “weak environmental and social protections, as well as the absence of any measures to include local communities in decision-making processes”. The policy and subsequent upstream legislation lack any explicit gender provisions. The 2013 Petroleum Exploration, Development and Production Act includes two instances of gender sensitivity, with respect to local content provisions taking gender into account and a gender quota for the Board of the Petroleum Authority. The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, however is in the process of developing a proposal for community engagement in the oil region that recognises different ways that men and women experience and interact with the sector.

The report shows how the extractives sector can negatively impact women and reinforces the need for gender responsive policy and legislation and the importance of working across government to realise outcomes for women. The 2016 paper looking at gender in mining in the Great Lakes Region notes that Ministries of Mining have the greatest level of influence over gender equality in the mining sector (specifically tin, tantalum and tungsten, however consideration of gender in law, policy and resource allocation is marginal). The paper further demonstrated that Ministries of Gender, Social Welfare etc. have a high degree of interest in advancing gender equality, but the engagement with the minerals sector is limited. Therefore increased engagement between these Ministries is needed to improve gender equality in the sector. 

A study from Oxfam in the Tete Province of Mozambique shows some of the challenges of resettlement of communities impacted by extractive operations (see S. Lillywhite, D. Kemp, and K. Sturman, Mining, resettlement and lost livelihoods: Listening to the Voices of Resettled Communities in Mualadzi, Mozambique). Issues in the planning and process of the resettlement led to food and water insecurity, where the identification of the land for resettlement had not been done properly and did not have the right soil conditions. As agricultural work was carried out by women, this primarily affected them. The loss of jobs and market access from the remote area the community were resettled to led to a reduction of household income and an increase in travel costs. Throughout the process there was limited access to information, particularly for women, and an unclear remedy process. The negative consequences of this resettlement, felt heavily by women, have shown the need for better gender analysis in planning and well as stronger involvement of women throughout.

Papua New Guinea, Peru and Indonesia

In Papua New Guinea, the Government, with support from the World Bank, held a series of workshops on gender and mining. These workshops led to the preparation of a five year National Women and Mining Action Plan. This action plan included micro-finance and microcredit programmes, literacy and skills training, the establishment of gender desks at each of major mining operations and improved HIV/AIDS awareness and counselling for victims of abuse. However, follow on support from the World Bank in this area was ultimately cancelled due to implementation issues that ultimately could not be overcome and what this will mean for gender equality in Papua New Guinea’s mining sector is as yet unclear.

Evidence from Peru has shown that extractive industry community CSR programmes have a tendency to actually widen the gap between men and women in terms of knowledge, skills and power, as these programmes often disproportionately target men, and as we have seen, men are given more of a say over decision making in the community. However, where women were consulted they raised issues and provided solutions that were different to men, showing the need for their inclusion and the continual need to challenge the assumption that what can benefit men, will translate into benefits for women.

Having good engagement with communities is essential and the Kecamatan Development Project in Indonesia is seen as a good example of this. The project worked to support women in participating in community decision making in infrastructure project. The project used female facilitators in council meetings and held a competitive reward for promoting women’s participation. Other initiatives through the project focused on alleviating the time burden of women’s activities like water collection and travelling to rice paddies, through the construction of a road to the paddies and a water pipe.