A group of women dedicated to artisanal and small-scale mining have launched the first Peruvian union of its kind. The creation of the National Network of Women in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (RNM-MAPE) was supported by the RECLAIM Sustainability! Programme, funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A 'pallaquera' artisanal small-scale miner looks out over rocks in La Rinconada mountains, Peru

Solidaridad started working with the group in May 2021 to establish their common hopes and needs. In March 2022 they legally consolidated their network to make their situation and expectations known to state actors and other civil society organizations.

“Our first goal is to train women miners to make themselves visible and encourage their participation within artisanal and small-scale mining,” explains President María Elena Reyes, a miner from Arequipa.

At the end of May 2022 the network presented their priorities and proposals to the vice minister of mines and the technical team of the General Directorate for Mining Formalization (DGFM). “We hope that this dialogue does not remain on paper, but that in reality we are visible now that our national network is already formed,” said Reyes.

The union will confront various challenges that women miners face in Peru, including:

  • The lack of recognition of the work mining women do in the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector.
  • Their economic and social vulnerability due to informality.
  • The domestic burden that limits their participation at labor and community levels.
  • The lack of inclusion of mining women in training and political consultation processes.

Many women regain dignity when declaring we are workers. Women produce and work. We were hidden and forgotten, but now we are organized, and visible in the National Network of ASM Women.

justa Taype, delegate for the Arequipa region

Public authorities agree on the need to regularize gold trade, to deliver training at regional level and to keep a national registry of Pallaqueras (women who perform pallaqueo; an artisanal and ancestral way of mining that involves collecting minerals thrown away by their male peers). But above all, there’s a common consensus on enabling women miners’ participation in the development of the new national multisectoral policy for ASM and its bill. 

“The purpose of this policy is to consolidate a national vision for the sustainable development of small-scale mining and artisanal mining. It can contribute, among other things, to the inclusion of tens of thousands of miners in formal markets, with respect for the environment, people safety, and other regulations”, explained the director of the DGFM. “The project is still in its public consultation phase. We will fulfill the legal procedures to include them and collect their feedback”, commented Kency Mayta, vice minister of mines. 

“Through the design and implementation of public policies, business policies and business models that involve all stakeholders in the value chain, Solidaridad seeks to contribute to the improvement of working conditions and family income of women and men in artisanal and small-scale mining in Peru,” concludes Luis Landa, coordinator of this RECLAIM Sustainability! Programme.

Read more about our work with artisanal and small-scale gold miners around the world.