Gender, Security, and Natural Resource Governance


gender img burundi
Image: A Burundian woman crushing
rocks to release particles of gold
which can then be captured through
mercury amalgamation or the use
of a sluice

Despite the opportunities that natural resource extraction can bring, these opportunities are accompanied by socio-economic and environmental impacts that can significantly affect local populations in the vicinity of both artisanal and industrial extractive sites. Unfortunately, women often disproportionately bear the brunt of these negative impacts. These can include the loss of access to land or potable drinking water, increased social conflict, high inflation rates, lack of meaningful employment opportunities, an increased vulnerability to sexual exploitation and more. These impacts can be especially challenging where women are already marginalized or living in conflict and post-conflict situations.

There is little recourse for women to mitigate or eliminate these negative impacts, and their economic opportunities are often limited. They are frequently left out of consultative and decision-making processes that affect them the most, and their participation and leadership opportunities in natural resource governance and peacebuilding processes are generally minimal.

Mainstreaming gender equality into natural resource governance and peacebuilding processes is a key priority for PAC. We believe that integrating a gender perspective in the mineral sector, both artisanal and industrial, is crucial for ensuring that sector positively contributes to development and helps to strengthen peacebuilding efforts.

PAC works with a network of academics, institutions and civil society organizations, to identify and mitigate the particular challenges and vulnerabilities that women face in the extractive sectors, as well as to amplify or to create opportunities to enhance women’s participation in resource extraction, governance and peacebuilding.

Recent Projects:

Uncovering women’s experiences in artisanal and small-scale mining in Central and East Africa

PAC, alongside Carleton University and the Development Research and Social Policy Analysis Centre, have launched a new project aiming to provide an in-depth understanding of women’s economic roles in artisanal and small-scale mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Women perform a variety of roles in artisanal mining, from stone crushing to trading, and in some mines, make up 50% or more of the mining population. The project will explore conditions that shape women’s access to economic resources and how these are affected by regulatory policies and reforms. Evidence generated from the research will feed into policy advocacy and development. For more information, click here.

Gendered Dimensions of Natural Resource Extraction

PAC recently partnered with Congolese partners and researchers to conduct field research aimed at generating a better understanding the particular roles that women play in the supply chain of informal, artisanally-mined gold in the DRC. Furthermore, the research was designed to identify ways in which the informal nature of the gold trade in DRC was amplifying women’s vulnerabilities, while also laying the groundwork exploring how the introduction of formalization and certification mechanisms could either present new opportunities or (further) contribute to their marginalization. You can read our report in either French or English.

Women’s Livelihoods in Artisanal Mining Sectors: Rethinking State-Building in Conflict-Affected Africa

Partnership Africa Canada is a research contributor and advisor to a 5-year SSHRC-funded project to research women’s livelihoods in the ASM sector in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. Fellow researchers include Blair Rutherford and Doris Buss of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies, along with Eileen Alma (Coady Institute, St. Francis Xavier University) and Aisha Ibrahim (Institute for Gender Research and Documentation, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone). More information will be available soon.

Economies of Sexual Violence

In February 2013, with the support of IDRC, SSHRC and the Canadian Embassy in Kinshasa, PAC, Carleton University and Observatoire de lutte contre la corruption et les malversations économiques (OLUCOME) organized a workshop entitled “Economies of Sexual Violence and Conflict” in Bujumbura, Burundi. The aim of the workshop was to enhance research collaboration and the flow of research between African researchers and activists. This event came out of an earlier workshop hosted at Carleton University in 2010. The Burundi workshop is the first step, we hope, towards a research network of African and Canadians working on this theme.

The workshop’s title “Economies of Sexual Violence and Conflict” is a clue to the second innovative aspect of this event. Women and men’s livelihood practices – their access to goods and income-generating activities – is enmeshed in patterns of gendered violence, but this relationship has not been studied in depth and is little understood.  Resource extraction of minerals is one comparatively high-profile context where the inter-relationship between economies and conflict has attracted increased policy intervention.  Displacement caused by conflict and its aftermath is another example. Interventions by international actors, through peacekeeping, aid, or even internationally-funded transitional justice, is a third type of ‘economy’ that may contribute to gendered insecurities for women and men in ‘post’ conflict societies.

Workshop participants articulated a desire to maintain connections and continue to share information, leading to the creation of this online research network. More information about the event can be found at the Woman and Conflict Economies website: