Understanding Women's Experiences in Artisanal and Small Scale Mining in Central and East Africa

This project will provide empirical evidence on the constraints and opportunities for women's economic empowerment in artisanal and small scale mining (ASM), and on the impact of regulatory reforms. ASM refers to informal mining activities where miners use low technology or minimal machinery.

The goal is to enhance evidence-based decision-making on matters affecting women's economic empowerment in the ASM sector. The research will focus on artisanal mining of gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten in three countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, women participate in high numbers in ASM, performing various roles from panning and processing to trading goods and services. They also support multiple dependants through mining-related livelihoods. Yet little is known about their economic activities, level of control over resources, and overall well-being.

There is increased attention on the mining sector across the continent. Governments and international organizations grapple with measures to increase state regulation of mining to enhance economic gains from this sector, while curtailing criminal activity and conflict. New mining codes, taxation and investment regulations, and state ministries are being introduced.

While women's economic roles are essential to ASM, reforms targeting ASM are unfolding without sufficient analysis of the impact on women. The project will address these knowledge gaps and provide the evidence base that can inform current and proposed regulatory and legal reforms in the three focus countries.

This is a collaborative project between Carleton University, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), and the Kampala-based Development Research and Social Policy Analysis Center. Carleton University is coordinating the project.

This research is supported under the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) program. GrOW is a five-year, multi-funder partnership of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and IDRC.

With a focus on low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, GrOW aims to support policies and interventions that improve women's livelihoods and contribute to societal well-being. One component of the program will support 11 projects addressing barriers to women's economic empowerment and gender gaps in earnings and productivity. This project is among them, selected following a competitive call.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


36 months

IDRC Officer

Martha Melesse

Total funding

CA$ 996,088


Rwanda, Uganda, Canada, Republic of Congo, United Kingdom, North of Sahara, South of Sahara


Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women

Project Leader

Jennifer Hinton


Carleton University

Institution Country


Institution Website