Creative Capacity Building to Address Gender-Based Violence in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector

Grantee: Alliance for Responsible Mining
Country: Colombia


In Colombia, the Alliance for Responsible Mining partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) D-Lab to implement the Creative Capacity-Building to Address Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector project. This project addressed GBV and environmental degradation in mining territories.

Summary of impact


Project beneficiaries


People trained on GBV prevention


Of participants are more aware of GBV through the project

Situational background

Women artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM) in Colombia commonly experience harassment, sexual violence, and domestic violence. A 2018 study conducted by ARM found that half of the women surveyed reported experiencing sexual violence and nearly all of the women miners face economic GBV, as they are relegated to activities that are not considered central to mining, such as working as a chatarrera (sifting through tailings pulled from the mines by male miners to scavenge for leftover gold) or as a barequera (panning for gold in waterways). These activities require little to no qualifications, receive limited economic and social recognition, and are often targets of exploitation by middlemen. 

The informality, remoteness, and limited state presence at ASGM sites reinforce gender inequality and create opportunities for GBV and transactional sex. Additionally, widespread machismo and gender roles in mining communities reproduce and enhance discrimination and GBV against women. While Colombia has made progress in instituting policies and laws that mitigate GBV and promote gender equality in recent years, the culture in mining territories continues to lack gender awareness and gender-sensitive social norms.

Project approach

ARM and MIT D-Lab adapted proven approaches to address GBV in the mining sector in Colombia. The project held three-day movement-building workshops for women miners, with each focused on implementing a different approach. At the first workshop, the project applied the Public Narrative approach, developed at Harvard, to bring the women miners personal and collective stories to build solidarity and mobilize them into action around joint objectives. At the second workshop, they implemented the Creative Capacity Building (CCB) approach, developed by MIT D-Lab, which uses co-design to harness local creativity and knowledge of women miners to design solutions to identified challenges. At the third workshop, the project used ARM’s Advocacy Capacity Building approach to provide women ASGM miners with advocacy skills and empower them to advocate for safer and more equitable working conditions at the mines. The project team also refined these approaches according to findings from a gender analysis conducted early on in the project. 

By combining these tried-and-tested methodologies, the project offered women miners in four Colombian communities—Andes, Zaragoza, Nechí, and El Bagre—a safe space to share stories of their experiences with GBV, identify specific GBV challenges, and collectively build solutions. The workshops also provided training on environmental degradation and safe mining practices. Additionally, some local women miners received training to facilitate the workshops themselves, boosting feelings of empowerment and enabling them to run workshop logistics and finances.

Notable results

Over the 23 months of the project, ARM and MIT D-Lab trained 48 women artisanal and small-scale miners at a total of three movement-building workshops in Bajo Cauca and three in Andes, with more than half of the women attending all three of the workshops in their area. 

A key goal of the program was to increase women miners’ knowledge of GBV and to provide them with a space to understand and share their experiences with GBV in their communities. As a result of the workshops, all of the participants surveyed agreed that they had a greater understanding of GBV. All of the participants also showed an increase in advocacy skills, indicating that they knew how to create a campaign in their community after receiving the opportunity to practice doing so during the program. Additionally, 92 percent of the women miners reported an improvement in their narrative skills and more than half of the women miners reported an improvement in their co-design skills after participating in the workshops. 

In order to ensure the sustainability of the program, Naples Prime has committed to funding movement-building conferences moving forward, including one for 500 women in October 2022, and Universidad Nacional will support the women in co-designing a gender-sensitive formalization process.