Long Read

Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment at the UN Commission on the Status of Women

From 13-24 March 2017,  the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)  will take place at the United Nations Headquarters  in New York. During the Commission’s annual two-week session, representatives of UN Member States, UN entities and civil society organisations from all over the world gather together. Simavi will be joining the CSW to ensure that issues relevant to our work, and the Going for Gold programme in particular, are taken along in the negotiations and the outcome documents.

The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. This year’s priority theme is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.

Empowering women economically

Simavi strives for a world where women and girls are valued members of their communities, live free from violence and can take decisions over their own bodies and general health. We are committed to ending violence against women and girls (VAWG) as this has a major impact on the health and wellbeing of women and girls. Empowering women economically can reduce the risk of violence by improving her autonomy.

There is a close relation between the denial of women’s economic rights and violence against women and girls (VAWG), which is in itself also a form of VAWG. Men use violence against women at home as a control mechanism, for example within a relationship, money is often used as a tool of control and, without it, women have less opportunities to control their lives and escape their situation. That is why women state economic empowerment as being the single most important and desired intervention to address domestic violence. Read more about this here.

Women’s economic empowerment in the mining industry

Together with Solidaridad and Healthy Entrepreneurs, we started the Going for Gold programme to address women’s economic empowerment in the small scale mining sector. This 5 year programme is working to improve the health and economic opportunities for women living in and around artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities in Western Region, Ghana, and Geita district, Tanzania.

Ghana and Tanzania are the second and fourth largest producers of gold in Africa. Women working in artisanal and small-scale 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.

Going for Gold programme

In the Going for Gold programme, Simavi, Solidaridad and Health Entrepreneurs join forces to offer a unique skillset of expertise, networks and methodologies that will ensure effective implementation of this programme.

Solidaridad will work with ASGM miners to achieve fair mining practices in support of women’s rights and needs. Simavi and Healthy Entrepreneurs will focus on working with gold communities to ensure women’s improved sexual and reproductive health and to create an environment in which communities, health workers, and authorities recognise women’s health rights.

Together we can make a change in the lives of many women working in the mining sector. Read our call for action to government, mining companies and civil society response here.



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