Gender and Extractives

6. Women working in the sector

Companies and governments need to think of structural issues – including safety, access to training, equal pay, cultural norms, separate changing and washing facilities, harassment – to ensure women are able to take up employment opportunities within the extractive sector. Policies encouraging women into the workforce need to understand how these interact with household level needs and find ways to mitigate risks of women’s time poverty.

Key Questions and Considerations:

  • Are women equally able to access education and training opportunities?

  • Has the government identified steps to ensure work locations are suitable for women?

  • Are extension services equally available to women?

  • Are there broader government targets on women’s education and employment? Are local content plans and policies aligned to these?

  • Can government support marketing arrangements that benefit women as well as men? 

  • Has the government supported and invested in services that support women’s safe entry into the sector, like child care facilities?


 The perception of the extractives sector as man’s work can mean that women do not always pursue education and training related to the sector. The government should encourage skills and technology transfer programmes to ensure women’s participation. Within the sector itself women face issues around the suitability of work locations (hygiene and changing facilities, child care facilities, personal protective equipment) as well discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender. Governments need to ensure that industry partners have strong anti-discrimination and harassment policies and provide clear guidance on suitable work locations. The government could look at options to incentivise industry and service providers to promote gender equality in their internal policies and in access to equipment. 

In the ASM sector, if appropriate, the government may support the formation of women’s associations to improve identification of the needs of women and advocate for change to ensure equitable benefits. The government must also take steps to ensure its extension services are equally available to women as to men. Women working in the ASM sector may need access to finance to support their business. There are often obstacles to women accessing finance, due to the lack of tailored financial products, collateral requirements. The government could undertake initiatives to improve financing for women and encourage the establishment of local level saving groups and potentially government guaranteed credit facilities. Other options include government partnerships with large scale mine operations to enable women to access mineral inputs, as well as promoting manufacturing hubs where women are given equal opportunity. The World Bank funded ASM Toolkit provides a series of recommendations that governments could take on to ensure better inclusion of women within the ASM sector.