How can you promote gender equality in Rwanda's mining sector?

March 24, 2020

Pact's Rwanda office hosted a panel discussion and networking lunch for International Women’s Day 2020 to celebrate women's achievements in the country’s mining sector while also exploring how greater equality can be achieved.

Indeed, Rwanda already has much to offer the rest of the world in this regard. The constitution includes a clause that women must occupy 30 percent of decision-making positions in parliament, the 2009 Rwanda Mining Policy includes the target to increase women’s participation in the sector to 20-30 percent, and the 2010 National Gender Policy provides guidelines to mainstream gender is sector-wide policies and programs. (Learn more here.)

Hosted by Pact's Rwanda country director, Ildephonse Niyonsaba, three expert panelists explored the theme of "collective individualism," which asks: How can we all have a positive impact on larger society through our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets?

‘Women are not involved in the sciences, meaning they do not acquire geological and mining knowledge’

To begin, panelist Aline Providence, Chairperson Rwanda Women In/And Mining Organization (WIAMO), outlined some of the key challenges women face in the mining sector. These include a lack of education, especially at higher levels in the sciences and mining-related fields, meaning they do not have the requisite qualifications and awareness of the sector as a career path. This also extends to the lack of women more generally in business and decision-making positions. There is also the triple burden for women of 1) home care work, 2) income generating work, and 3) community responsibilities, as well as discrimination and social norms against women working in the sector.

84 percent of RMB field staff are women – ‘it is a matter of sensitization’

There are 81 field staff at the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), 67 of whom are women. However, as panelist John Kanyangira, Director of Inspection RMB, outlined, while there are some geologists and geophysicists working at the agency, they need more women in top positions. To address this, RMB is working to professionalize and open the sector to investment more generally, which will increase opportunities for women at all levels, while also encouraging school-age women to gain qualifications and follow a career in mining through outreach and sensitization.

Meanwhile, panelist Alice Uwera, Administrative Assistant with the Rwanda Mining Association (RMA), explained that her organization is helping women already in the sector to join the association, trying to organize training and taster workshops for women to experience the job opportunities available, and encouraging managing directors of mining companies to employ more women and for women leaders to become role models for others.

Aline added that through her work on the Sustainable Development of Mining in Rwanda (SDMR) program, they have developed model gender and social inclusion policies with COMIKAGI mining cooperative and are working with RMB and RMA to validate and disseminate these countrywide.

Three things to promote and ensure gender equality in Rwanda’s mining sector

To end the discussion, panelists were asked to name one thing each of us could do in our everyday lives to promote and ensure gender equality in mining. They answered:

1.     Remove obstacles — that prevent women from entering the mining sector in the first place as well as from gaining positions at all levels, from the mine site to managerial and board level and in related input and output sectors such as investment, trading, equipment and services. This includes applying gender equity principles through positive discrimination and promoting opportunities for women. 

2.      Research — to identify what the underlying barriers are that prevent many women from entering and progressing in Rwanda’s mining sector to work at all levels and to find initiatives that can improve the gender balance. Compared to DRC, South Africa and Australia, where there are women in mining, what is preventing more women in mining in Rwanda?

3.      Sensitization  — in all of our daily lives and work to bring the issue to the front of the agenda, incorporate solutions within different initiatives and programs, even if they do not have a mining focus, and advocate for women in mining to show that they are able to and should be working in the sector at all levels.

Listen to an audio recording of the panel discussion here

For more information, contact Ildephonse Niyonsaba,