For almost a decade, Pili Hussein disguised as a man so she could be allowed to work in the mines in the hopes of finding one of the world’s rarest gemstones.

Tanzanite is a rare, violet-blue gemstone that is a thousand times harder to find than diamonds. And there is only place in the world it can be found — in Tanzania.

Her risk taking paid off after she struck it rich, uncovering two massive clusters of tanzanite stones.

Regarded as “Uncle Hussein” by her fellow miners, it was only after she was wrongfully accused of rape did everyone discover she was a woman!

Today, Pili owns her own mining company with 70 employees.

Three of her employees are women, but they work as cooks not as miners. Pili says that although there are more women in the mining industry than when she started out, even today very few actually work in the mines.

Pili Hussein was part of the UN Women Mapping Study on Gender and Extractive Industries in Mainland Tanzania

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