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Empowerment in ASM: Join Us in Supporting Women Pallaqueras on their Path to Economic Independence

Empowerment in ASM: Join Us in Supporting Women Pallaqueras on their Path to Economic Independence

Written by:  Víctor Hugo Pachas

March 2024
Over the past decade, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in Peru has undergone significant mechanization, particularly in vein-type deposits. This modernization has increased productivity and gold recovery, offering new investment and business opportunities. However, this evolution has also marginalized a crucial group: “pallaqueras”, women who collect rocks that have been discarded from gold mines in search of remains of gold.

A commitment to woman miners

Since 2017, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) has partnered with the Pallaqueras Association of San Francisco de la Rinconada in Puno, Perú, comprised of 30 women historically dedicated to pallaqueo, or the selection of gold from mining debris. These women, vulnerable as they do not belong to a mining concession, have seen their incomes decrease due to dwindling gold content in mining waste, a result of increasing mechanization.

ARM’s gender strategy in Peru focuses on empowering these women through alternative enterprises. Since 2021, a Rotating Fund for the Pallaqueras of San Francisco has been implemented, financing businesses such as hair salons and food sales. Despite identified challenges, such as the need to improve accounting management and infrastructure, the Fund has shown a 25% growth, increasing from $2,300 to $2,875 by December 2023.

“Pallaqueras” women collecting rocks with traces of gold from the rubble of the mines.

Norma Choquehuanca, the association’s president, shared her experience: “We started by training in accounting, learned a lot, and became enthusiastic about entrepreneurship. Now we are independent and want to stay that way. Many women would like to be part of the Fund, but we need more financial support to involve more women.”

We invite international allies, civil organizations, and public and private entities to support this initiative, promoting a positive impact on ASM and the quality of life of mining families, especially pallaquera women.

This experience has been implemented by the Alliance For Responsible Mining (ARM) with the support of Ensemble Foundation and the Ford Foundation under the Charpitas Inclusivas project. It has also received support from other Fairmined jewelers such as Lakdawala, Ethical Jewels by BelloniAjaie Alaie, and Saskia Shutt. It’s time to join forces and Transform ASM together.

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