Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM)

The report includes three cases studies covering the experiences of women in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in Zimbabwe, Peru, and the Philippines before outlining some key principles to achieve a more inclusive and equitable ASM sector globally.

By Olivia Lyster, Ashley Smith-Roberts, Ege Tekinbas on January 17, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on the livelihoods of many people around the world. Its impacts on informal sectors and in jurisdictions where state reach and support are limited have been all the more damaging. The artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector—which employs nearly 45 million people around the world and indirectly supports approximately 150 million—has been among those hit hardest by the pandemic.

Health impacts on miners and their families have included sickness and, in some cases, death, with many mining communities located in rural areas far from health care or the social safety net of the state. The closure of international borders and imposition of national movement restrictions in many countries disrupted mineral supply chains, creating significant obstacles to trade and a buyer’s market that saw the collapse of mineral prices at the ASM site level.

Against this backdrop, this policy brief focuses on the gendered impacts of COVID-19 on ASM communities. The resounding finding of ASM sector research is that COVID-19 and its related impacts have exacerbated pre-pandemic gender inequalities in the sector, despite women being critical members of the ASM workforce worldwide.