The support metrics for rural socio-economic development favour the targeted direct support for women, this is no different for supporting women involved in ASM

The peculiarities of women’s challenges in ASM, denote the need for special dispensation within solutions rendered to the sector. Based on recent studies conducted by AMDC and collaborating partners, findings denote that for women:

• there is a critical inaccessibility of capital and financing for mining operations from mainstream financing facilities;

• lack of appropriate machinery, technology and equipment whilst for instance in the usage of very hazardous mercury for amalgamation of gold;

• lack of access to information on availability of mining claims;

• extreme difficulty in acquiring mining licences;

• lack of geological information on the output capacity of their mines due to a lack of finances for the employment of surveyors/geologists;

• lack of technical know-how of the sector due to unavailability of capacity building opportunities;

• lack of information on the market dynamics including tax incentives;

• labour-intensive unpaid care work in the home that takes up time that could have otherwise been utilised in productive mining activities;

• prevailing patriarchal ideologies that mining is a man’s job, thereby obstructing crucial access to information and requisite capacity building from reaching women miners; and

• there exists an application of rudimentary and often times hazardous safety, health and environmental standards for women in ASM.

It is from the above challenges, that formalisation support mechanisms towards organised women’s ASM associations preferably in the form of cooperatives, usually stems from and may initially be implemented.
This approach may target women’s holistic empowerment beyond their welfare as ASM stakeholders through interrogation of linkages as a sustainable livelihood tool and the dynamics of gender balanced inclusive growth that add on to countries’ national development agendas through women’s expenditure on direct socio-economic benefits for their families, thus enhancing the human resource base.
From the perspective of how ASM is an alternative livelihood to smallholder agriculture, ONE possible way of rapidly legitimising ways and mobilising skeptics to support efforts to formalise ASM – at least in the short term – would be to build a case around how the sector sustains agriculture.
The apparent symbiotic livelihood options mean, extending support through gender-sensitive agricultural and land policies is by extension an implementation of support towards associated value chains both in ASM and agriculture.
Targeted women’s support in ASM is thus an underused source of growth that may be harnessed to achieve sustainable and inclusive development. Hence the need to rein in this support as a mechanism for formalising the existing interlinked livelihood options in a manner that diversifies into other expandable economic sectors vis-à-vis linkages, moreso within rural areas.