The MIT D-Lab Inclusive Economies program and the Alliance for Responsible Mining in Colombia, have joined together to launch a two-year program addressing gender-based violence affecting women engaged in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in the Antioquia region of Colombia.



The project uses an innovative movement-building approach to foster women miners’ associations and homegrown advocacy to address social and economic gender-based violence in mining communities in Andes, Zaragoza, Nechí, and El Bagre in Antioquia, Colombia.

>> The lives and challenges of artisanal and small-scale women miners in Antioquia

Artisanal and small-scale mining accounts for 60 percent of all gold extraction in Colombia. With mining traditionally considered a masculine activity, women comprise only five percent of the official mining labor force. Women miners in the municipalities of Bajo Cauca and Andes typically carry out peripheral activities such as gold panning and scavenging tailings discarded by male miners to extract left-over gold. These activities require little to no qualification, receive limited economic or social recognition, and are often exploited by middlemen. Given the informality of this sector and limited financial return, women working in artisanal and small-scale mining commonly augment their income through informal food businesses, seasonal agriculture work, and transactional sex, among others. For some of these women, harassment, sexual violence, and domestic violence are commonplace.


>> Creating a safe space for collective action through co-design and advocacy skills

Building on this momentum and their combined expertise, ARM and MIT D-Lab are working to build a safe space for collective action and co-design and improving women miners’ design and advocacy skills, paving the way for women miners to organize themselves in associations, identify specific challenges, and implement an advocacy roadmap to address gender-based violence and environmental degradation in their communities. Empowering women to advocate for recognition of their economic role in the mining value chain will also leverage their ability to organize against other forms of gender discrimination and violence.


>> The plan: needs and risk assessment, training and sharing learning and tools

The project will start with an assessment of risks and opportunities, detailing barriers for 50 women miners to engage with formal markets, using ARM’s process CRAFT, a Passport to formal markets. Following activities include refining the training methodology and curriculum combining Public Narrative, Creative Capacity Building, and Advocacy Capacity Building.


>> The goals: miner associations and a toolkit

By the end of the project, the team aims to have supported the development of two to three women miner associations to be working on socioeconomic gender-based violence and environmental challenges in Bajo Cauca and Andes and to have published a toolkit on movement-building for women engaged in extractive industries.


RISE challenge

The Alliance for Responsible Mining is part of this project, being one of the winning organizations of the RISE Challenge, proposed by USAID in 2019. This challenge seeks to identify and finance the innovative application of approaches to address gender-based violence through programs that address the access, use, control and management of natural resources.

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