Precious stones and gemstone value chains are particularly complex in Africa. The mining of these stones is predominantly through artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) whose activities are largely illegal and unregulated making it vulnerable to illegal dealings, corruption and conflict.
In Kenya, ASM accounts for over 80% of the annual gemstone and gold production with women and youth playing a major role (UNDP 2015). Kenya, boasts of the availability of over 10 different precious and semi-precious coloured gemstones, namely: Ruby, Tsavorite, Yellow Tourmaline, Green Tourmaline, Red Garnet, Colour Change Garnet, Aquamarine, Amethyst, Iolite and Blue Sapphire.

The 2021 Gems Fair seeks to highlight some of the rare gems and colored stones in the continent that could improve the economic and social dynamics of their source areas, which tend to be remote as well as position and promote women in the region, involved in the business of mining many of whom are at grassroots level, to access regional and international markets.

This year’s theme “2021 Africa Gems – Mine to Market” Fair and Conference will be interactive providing working sessions and panel discussions on the role that women can play to foster peace where gems and colored stones are mined. It will also provide an opportunity to agree on the way forward and get commitments of actions from stakeholders

Several international efforts targeted at empowering women in peacebuilding have been implemented. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (issued in 2000) on women, peace, and security is the lead initiative at the global level spearheading women’s roles in peacebuilding. Resolution 1325 includes a gender perspective in peacebuilding by highlighting the potential of women to play an active role in conflict resolution and state rebuilding throughout the peace process.
Subsequently the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (known as UN Women) was established on 2014 with the mandate of “rearticulating the objectives of continued gender mainstreaming within peacekeeping operations”.

On the continent, the African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security has also embraced Resolution 1325, invoking it in action plans and strategies. In 2015, the Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission launched the 5-year Gender, Peace and Security Programme (2015-2020) to develop effective strategies to increase women’s participation in the promotion of peace and security and enhance the protection of women in conflict and post-conflict situations in Africa.

Despite the efforts, these frameworks have provided only limited guidance to the role women can play to ensure conflict-free mineral sourcing to promote peace. Consequently, the incorporation of the role and empowerment of women in mining in peacebuilding efforts in the global, regional, and national peacebuilding policies and regulatory frameworks is underwhelming.