This article analyses how a strategy for Tanzania’s tanzanite gemstone mining sector could foster gender equality in the mine-to-market (M2M) supply chain, whilst enhancing opportunities for female entrepreneurship as part of the country’s sustainable economic development. In the mining industry, the contemporary concept of mapping artisanal and small-scale mining to the UN Sustainable Development Goals is a newer aspect of sustainability. SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. However, while there have been initiatives to support gemstone mining in Tanzania and East Africa, to date, the role of women in the lucrative tanzanite M2M supply chain has been less visible and a missed opportunity. This is a concern, as in 2019, pre-COVID-19 pandemic, gemstone and precious metals accounted for an incredible 33.2% of Tanzania’s total exports. In contrast, in leading mining countries such as Australia and Canada, the participation of women continues to steadily advance, economically empowering the women involved. This article contributes a critical review of Tanzanian mining regulation and licensing practice in a historical and gender equality context. A qualitative research case study showcases artisanal small-scale (ASM) tanzanite gemstone miner and entrepreneur Pili Hussein, with a view to support the formulation of a Tanzanian regional, female-oriented, M2M tanzanite strategy. The developed world experience of increasing levels of gender participation in mining provides evidence of a reduced gender pay gap and enhanced mine safety practice when women are involved. This research finds that increased investment in supporting women to participate in the tanzanite M2M gemstone supply chain positively impacts SDG 5 in the country. Furthermore, given Tanzania’s economic dependence on mining and the exceptional characteristics of rare, single-source tanzanite (a generational gemstones), we conclude that gender equality and female mine-to-market (M2M) entrepreneurship has an undervalued, yet important, role to play in Tanzania’s future socio-economic development.
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