Tanzania: Moyo Gemstones' initiative to ensure female gemstone miners get a fair share of profit

Author: Megan McEarchern, The Sunday Post , Published on: 13 November 2019

"Miner miracle: Scots jeweller joins global fight to end unethical trade in gems from Africa"

It is back-breaking work and the sweat rolls down her face as she pulls out a small, glittering stone. Raheli, one of Tanzania’s female gem miners, is paid a little money for her labours. Meanwhile, the gem may travel hundreds of miles to end up on a foreign jewellery counter, to be sold perhaps for thousands of pounds, euros, or dollars. In just the past two decades, seven African countries have endured brutal civil conflicts fuelled by precious stones, predominantly diamonds. These include Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo...

While neighbouring Tanzania is not in a conflict, its jewel miners are also often dis-empowered, uneducated, and unfairly compensated for the backbreaking, highly dangerous work they carry out. With one third of Tanzania’s miners female, the need for the work of Moyo Gemstones – a new ethical programme, which officially launched on the world stage last week – becomes glitteringly apparent. “We’ve often found that miners – the ones doing the hardest work in the gem trade – know the least about gemstones,” explains Cristina Villegas, director of Mines to Markets at Pact and a co-founder of Moyo Gemstones. “This puts them at an obvious disadvantage when it comes to selling, when the gem’s species, features, cut potential and hues all come into play and when basic gem knowledge is power.”...

Moyo Gemstones – a global collaboration between the non-governmental organisation Pact, Anza Gems, Nineteen48, Tanzania Women Miners Association (TAWOMA) and a blockchain addition from Everledger – is the world’s first responsible coloured gems programme. It aims to specifically improve Tanzanian female miner’s gem and market knowledge, to raise their incomes, set them on a more equal footing to male miners, and to make sure they are recognised for the arduous work that makes consumers’ jewellery possible.

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