Jaliah Zabibu Namatovu, the MUWOGOMA chairperson, says for all the years of artisan gold mining in Mubende, women were almost being locked out from most of the juicy areas and limited to washing, panning, sieving and sorting activities.
Although women play a
much bigger role in Artisan and Small-scale Mining in Uganda, they are less
recognized and generally get poor remunerations. Women in Mubende-Kassanda gold
mines are striving to change the narrative as mining activities take shape in
A 2018 study conducted
by Global Rights Alert-GRA in the gold mining districts of Mubende and Buhweju
indicates that a lot of female artisans are limited to petty work and rarely
own gold pits, which leaves them with limited decision-making powers and
control rendering them vulnerable to decisions from their male counterparts.
In Mubende, strong-minded
female miners have grouped themselves in small associations found in different
mining locations under their umbrella body Mubende Women Gold Miners
Association-MUWOGOMA. The association aims at overcoming barriers to female
participation in mining, address risks and hindrances.
Namatovu, the MUWOGOMA chairperson, says for all the years of artisan gold
mining in Mubende, women were almost being locked out from most of the juicy
areas and limited to washing, panning, sieving and sorting activities.
Namatovu, however, notes that with more exposure from civil society
organizations and benchmarking excursions to other countries like Tanzania,
they have realized that they can fully participate in the mining sector and
also earn as like their male counterparts or even do better.
//Cue in: “Ffe ng’abakyala twali…
Cue out…nekifuna license.”//
Namatovu says they are now deliberate efforts that will allow female miners to information,
which has also been a great barrier since women are kept uninformed on the
developments in the sector thus being exploited.
Lukia Namuli, a female artisan gold miner, notes lack of finance as one of the
challenges that was holding them back as the activities require huge investment
for better returns. She however says they
are planning to solve this challenge by creating a pool of capital, which will
help to acquire equipment.
//Cue in: “Ndi mukyala mulombe…
Cue out…okubeera abalombe.”//
Several women interviewed by URN were optimistic that by forming associations
they may see positive changes and gain their livelihood from the mines.
However, some of the women, say the move might benefit a few woman, most
probably the leaders.
another female artisan miner, says that even after joining their efforts, the
female miners have remained weak and in dare need of support from the
government in terms of subsidized equipment, favorable policies with some
directly focusing on gender-related issues and access to loans at lower
“Women are the blood of the mining sector, which has proved that it can cause a
big impact on the growth of our country. Why can’t they provide us with
favorable conditions? By the way, we don’t need free money as in donation, all
we need is capacity building, subsidized equipment and affordable loan period,”
Besides, equipment and
funding, female miners are worried about their safety while operating in the
mine and the widespread use of mercury. Mukabarisa says that given the fact
that more females operate in washing they are exposed to mercury which they
have heard that it is dangerous to their health.
Winfred Namukwaya, the Kassanda Senior Labour Officer, says that in the past,
women suffered a lot of injustices ranging from no pay and underpayment despite
the heavy workload given by their employers, which at times forced some into
She notes that her office working with other authorities will ensure that the
mines become a safe place for female workers and also address labor-related