One place where positive impact of natural diamonds can be seen is El’gyay, a village in the heart of subarctic Siberia with only two thousand inhabitants. Visitors coming to El’gyay today will still find the oldest school in the Republic of Sakha, originally built out of wood in 1875. As diamonds were discovered in Siberia, fortunes changed for the school. In 2015, a new larger building was constructed thanks to ALROSA, which injected more than $4.3 million into the project. Many other diamond mining companies including De Beers Group, Lucara, RZM Murowa, Rio Tinto, Dominion Diamond Mine and Petra Diamonds have also contributed to programs that offer scholarships and financial assistance to help young people pursue their educational—and ultimately their career—dreams. One country that has seen a transformation in its education system as a direct result of the economic impact of diamonds, is Botswana. Once the third poorest country in Africa, Botswana has rapidly become one of the world’s development success stories and according to the World Bank, an upper-middle-income country with a transformation agenda of becoming a high-income country by 2036. De Beers Group’s 50/50 joint venture in Botswana, Debswana, has built and continues to support several primary schools in the country attended by children of employees as well as local residents.
COVID-19 has also demonstrated that despite progress made in economic inclusion of women, their jobs tend to be more vulnerable than men’s. In the future, the progress made so far could be reversed with more women potentially excluded from formal employment. The scholarship has been created to assist any woman applying in a Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field who is and has been a resident of North Western Territories or the West Kitikmeot region of Nunavut for at least half their life. “Rio Tinto has ongoing efforts to support women in the mining industry and this Northern women-only scholarship will directly support these efforts on a more local level,” says Bailey. “Ultimately,” says Winter Bailey, acting Manager of Communities and Communications for Rio Tinto Diavik Diamond Mine “we want as many women to get involved in the mining industry as possible”. To keep progressing the inclusion of women within De Beers Group and the wider economy, Shahila Perumalpillai tells us that De Beers is working with UN Women, WomEng and local partners in its producer countries to support young women to pursue studies and careers in STEM-related fields—including manufacturing—through scholarships, awareness-raising, innovation challenges and mentoring.
While diamonds are an heirloom to last forever, it is magical to know that across the world and sometimes in the most overlooked and remote destinations, they leave a different kind of lasting and priceless legacy.
With inputs from Natural Diamond Council
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