Long Read

Golden News: programme granted to empower women in gold mines

In 2016 Simavi, Solidaridad and Healthy Entrepreneurs will start a new 5 year programme to improve women’s economic opportunities in artisanal and small-scale gold mining communities in Ghana and Tanzania. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced this week that our proposal for the Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) II fund, has been granted.

The challenge

Ghana and Tanzania are the second and fourth largest producers of gold in Africa. Women working in gold mines (ASGMs) and surrounding communities face discrimination at multiple levels. Evidence indicates that men control and benefit from access to land for mining, incomes, credit, and mining and household commodities, thus limiting women’s opportunities. Reproductive roles, limited access to health services and socio-cultural norms in communities prevent women from benefitting from mining and other economic activities. Women involved in mining activities undertake particularly arduous and hazardous work, including breaking and shifting rocks and using highly toxic mercury to extract gold, with severe consequence for their health and that of their families. Mercury is especially dangerous for women of childbearing age and pregnant women. Sexual harassment, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and transactional sex are also common in mining areas.

The programme

Solidaridad will focus on the mining environment and stakeholders to improve working conditions for women, create alternative livelihood opportunities, and will lobby within the supply chain (following Fairtrade standards) and towards governments.

Healthy Entrepreneurs will train women as ‘Healthy Entrepreneurs’ to provide essential health information using an electronic tablet, and supply Sexual and Reproductive Health products. They will set-up a sustainable distribution network and develop targeted, context-specific information for the tablets, such as information about the dangers of working with mercury.

Simavi will focus on the communities around the mines to ensure better  (health) opportunities for women. We will empower women to improve their Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and ensure they have access to quality SRH services. We improve access to health services both by training health workers as well as building the capacity of women themselves to claim their rights through social accountability tools. We will support this by engaging men and community members to create awareness of and support for women’s health and rights. We combine this with advocacy to the national governments for prioritisation of SRHR.

We are really looking forward to getting this programme off the ground and improving the health and economic opportunities for women in mining communities in Ghana and Tanzania!

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