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FEATURE STORY March 8, 2021

Celebrating African Women in Mining with AWIMA`s Jewellery Design Competition


The adverse economic shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the enormous progress that Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) communities have undertaken to formalize the sector.

The Association of Women in Mining in Africa (AWIMA), a network promoting the leadership, inclusion, and sustainable empowerment of women in extractive industries, through its AWIMA Jewellery Project, aims to mitigate the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic upon women, particularly those in ASM communities, while simultaneously celebrating their resilience. 

Building on the increasing global demand for ethical products, the project launched the AWIMA Jewellery Design Competition to provide a one-of-a-kind platform for celebrating the resilience of African women in mining while using innovative ideas to partner with African women designers and jewelers.

To unearth the vast female design talent on the African continent and its diaspora, in January 2021, the competition invited African female designers to submit a brooch inspired by the theme; “A Symbol of solidarity that unifies and honors Women in mining in Africa”.

"Women in Africa are dominant consumers of jewellery and powerful players in the jewellery value chain. However, there are many challenges that discourage or limit their participation. We are excited to create a platform to illustrate the excellence of our continents’ creativity in jewellery making and celebrate the brilliantly gifted women involved"
Skyi Addo
President of AWIMA


The winning design, “Lady Aya” (left) made by Ngone Sagne (right)

The winning design, “Lady Aya” was made by Ngone Sagne, a Senegalese Jeweller. Ms Sagne`s design was not only the unanimous selection of the panel of judges, it also received the majority of the 1500 votes from the public to win the “’People’s Choice Award”.

The winner was selected from a highly compelling pool of seventy submissions from around the continent. The submissions were judged based on originality and ability to eloquently capture the spirit and essence of both the competition theme “A Symbol of solidarity that unifies and honors Women in mining in Africa” and AWIMA’s mandate of promoting women led supply chains in the mining, gem and jewellery industries.

Lady Aya in all her glory completely embodies the African woman in the jewellery and mining ecosystem” said Ms. Lotanna Amina Egwuatu, Creative Director of Mina Stones and one of the judges of the competition.

The winning design will be manufactured by African jewelers using raw materials exclusively sourced from African artisanal and small-scale miners. Proceeds from its auction will go towards ASM communities in Africa. The winner will have the unique opportunity to work with AWIMA to oversee the production of their design.

I am honored that my “Lady Aya” design was selected for the AWIMA Jewellery design competition. This competition gave me the opportunity to stay in touch with my motherland by sharing my creativity as an African female jewellery designer living in the diaspora. It is a privilege to contribute to the great work being done to celebrate the resilience and courage of women in mining in Africa” Ngone Sagne.

The AWIMA Jewellery Project, carried out in partnership with Levin Sources, is part of EGPS` emergency response for artisanal and small-scale mining communities impacted by COVID-19. This response provides short-term and medium-term assistance to international, regional, national and local organizations engaged in artisanal and small-scale mining.