MAC: Mines and Communities

Activists protest mining industry's harmful impact on women

Published by MAC on 2013-12-08
Source: Statement, Trust.org (2013-12-04)

Activists protest mining industry's harmful impact on women

Alia Dharssi

http://www.trust.org/item/20131204145952-e20k3/?source=hptop

4 December 2013

As a glittering crowd gathered in central London for a champagne reception honouring women in mining on Tuesday night, activists held a vigil to honour women they said had suffered human rights abuses at the hands of the industry.

The small group made its point by holding up posters highlighting the stories of women in communities affected by mining.

Led by the Gaia Foundation, which advocates halting mining development worldwide because of environmental and human rights concerns, about 20 activists stood outside London's Business Design Centre as those attending Mines and Money, an annual conference that drew over 3,000 industry representatives, government officials and investors this year, walked by.

Protesters read a statement by the International Women and Mining Network, which unites organizations from Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the Americas.

Their perspective contrasted with the industry reception, held by Women in Mining UK in partnership with Mines and Money at the end of the conference's second day.

The reception aimed to promote inclusive hiring practices and inspire women to consider careers in mining through the launch of the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining project, which showcases female engineers, geologists and finance professionals, among others, who have had an impact on the industry, said Justine James, communications manager of Women in Mining UK.

"We don't want to be critical of women making waves in the mining industry, but the mining industry is a hugely destructive, rapacious industry," said Richard Solly, coordinator of the London Mining Network, an alliance of 31 organizations that works with communities affected by London-linked mining companies.

"We are here ... to honour women struggling against the industry and to commemorate the women who've died or suffered in the struggle against the industry."

Activists expressed concern about issues including land grabs, violence against women, environmental destruction, forced displacement and lack of transparency in the industry.

They said the Mines and Money reception was a form of "women-washing," which enhanced the reputation of the industry by focusing on what it had done for a select few, while ignoring large numbers of women who had been negatively affected by the mining industry.

Glevys Rondon, project director of the Latin American Mining Monitoring Programme, said the intimidation of female protesters in Latin America was a big concern. In one case a Peruvian woman, Máxima Chaupe, faced threats and violent eviction attempts, and was beaten unconscious when she refused to sell her land to a mining company, Rondon said.

"It is a very Western issue, what the women are discussing here," Rondon said. "In Latin America, it's more about surviving the impact of mining and women dealing with it."

Samantha Hargreaves, coordinator of WoMin, a network of more than 36 African organizations, said it was important to focus on the gender-specific impact of the industry.

A paper published by WoMin this year said that 60 to 80 percent of the food consumed in rural sub-Saharan African households was produced by women - and land grabs, land lost to pollution and pressure on water resources caused by the mining industry undermine these women's ability to sustain their livelihoods.

(Alia Dharssi is a Global Journalism Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. She holds a Masters of Philosophy in Development Studies from Oxford University and can be found on Twitter @alia_d)


"Women in Mining" event challenged by "Women resisting Mining" !

Press release from London Mining Network and the Gaia Foundation

3 December 2013

An event in London this evening promoting women in the mining sector is being challenged by organisations and individuals highlighting inspirational women from around the world who are engaged in resisting the ecological and social devastation caused by mining projects. The event is part of the annual "Mines and Money" conference held in London.

Members of London Mining Network (LMN), led by women from LMN member group the Gaia Foundation, will hold a vigil from 6pm to 7.30pm outside the champagne reception at the Business Design Centre in Islington, bearing placards featuring the names and faces of women guardians of the land from around the world, while a statement from the international Women And Mining Network (RIMM from its Spanish initials) will be read outside and then handed in to the organisers of the Women in Mining event.

The statement says that:

"We wish to expose the glaring contradiction between this form of tokenism towards gender equality, where the industry glorifies a few women working within the sector while it displaces millions of women from our homes, from our ancestral lands and properties, and makes us impoverished."

Among the women activists celebrated by the placards to be displayed are:

1.The Makhadzi of Venda, South Africa, are guardians of a network of sacred sites whose health determines that of an entire ecosystem and the community. They are opposing CoAL of Africa's plans to mine coal in their territory in a series of projects that would decimate water sources, the entire ecosystem and their traditional agricultural livelihoods. As they say, " No water, No Life!"

2. Women in Doima village, Piedras, Colombia, have been at the forefront of the communities' opposition to La Colosa mine and the tailings dam threatening their land and livelihoods. Rallying to blockade bridges and create a unified and pacifistic resistance movement, they have risen to protect the heart of the Cordillera, as guardians of the land.

3. A community educator in the National Association of Professional Environmentalists' Sustainability School (Uganda), Alice Kazimura has been educating and supporting communities to protect their territory from land grabbing in the oil rich Buliisa district. In 2010 she was instrumental in preventing Tullow Oil Plc from taking community land in Kakindo: "We shall not sleep until Tullow backs off from our land. If it means going to the streets we shall go."

Rowan Phillimore of the Gaia Foundation said:

"We are standing in solidarity with women around the world who are courageously opposing destructive mining projects. It is wrong that their efforts to protect life should go unrecognised whilst those within the industry are celebrated. We are holding this vigil to mourn and bear witness to the violations of our planet by aggressive mining companies, and to stand together as women for the protection and dignity of Life."

Kerima Mohideen, Co-Chair of London Mining Network, said:

"This project is focusing on the career successes of small numbers of women within the male-dominated mining industry, while obscuring the realities of women around the world resisting the havoc brought to their communities by destructive mining developments."

Glevys Rondon, Co-ordinator of LMN member group LAMMP (Latin American Mining Monitoring Programme) said:

"In Latin America women play a significant role in opposing destructive mining. Although these women are invisible to the industry, they are women who have lost their land and have been evicted and disregarded because they are women. Their children are ill with high levels of lead and other toxins in their blood, they have lost a relatives due to violent repression during peaceful protests or as a result of the mining conflict which is tearing apart families and communities. These women are not concerned with jobs; they are concerned about their survival and their capacity to endure more mining violence."

The full text of the RIMM statement can be found below.

For more information/comment:

Rowan Phillimore, Gaia Foundation - 07748 945204 / 020 7428 0055

Richard Solly, London Mining Network - 07903 851695

International Women and Mining Network (Red Internacional Mujeres y Mineria - RIMM)
Mobile: +91-9491953070/9848824419

** ENDS ***

NOTES

1) The Mines and Money conference (http://www.minesandmoney.com/london/) is held annually in London to bring together mining companies and mining finance.
2) The Women In Mining Network (http://www.womeninmining.org.uk/) brings together women working in the mining industry. Its champagne reception on 3 December (https://www.womeninmining.org.uk/archives/5254) is to launch a project on "100 Inspirational Women in Mining".
3) The International Network on Women and Mining/Red Internacional Mujeres y Mineria (RIMM) is an international alliance of women working against damaging mining projects and injustices in the mining industry. The network is hosted by Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children in India (http://www.dhaatri.org/).
4) London is the world's main centre for raising finance for the mining industry. Many of the world's largest mining companies are based in the city or listed on the London Stock Exchange. London Mining Network (http://londonminingnetwork.org/about) is an alliance of 31 organizations working to support mining-affected communities and hold London-linked companies to account for environmental damage and human rights abuses connected with their operations around the world.
5) Gaia Foundation (http://www.gaiafoundation.org/) is committed to reviving and protecting cultural and biological diversity. It' mission is to regenerate healthy ecosystems, enhance traditional knowledge and practices for land, seed, food and water sovereignty, and to strengthen community self-governance.
6) LAMMP (http://www.lammp.org) supports women in Latin America affected by mining operations, seeking the inclusion of women in decision-making processes and all stages of mining policy development and practice.

--

Statement of Protest from the International Women and Mining Network

We, the International Women and Mining Network (Red Internacional Mujeres y Mineria - RIMM), today collectively speak out on the occasion of the Women In Mining launch of the 100 inspirational women in mining project at the Mines and Money conference of the global mining industry that is currently taking place in London (December 2013).

While we acknowledge the struggles of women workers for equity and justice within the mining sector, our concerns and political allegiance lie with the many millions of women across the world who have lost/threatened to lose their lands, livelihoods, rights to integrity of body and self, and their dignity because of the deadly impacts of destructive mining. Through our action outside the Women in Mining (WIM )project launch, and through the work RIMM undertakes with affected women on all continents, we expose the human rights violations and abuses of the global mining industry. We wish to expose the glaring contradiction between this form of tokenism towards gender equality, where the industry glorifies a few women working within the sector while it displaces millions of women from our homes, from our ancestral lands and properties and makes us impoverished. In our collective experience across Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas, indigenous women, peasant and working class communities a strongly protest against:

Thus we strongly condemn these and several other brutal forms of abuse on us as women and do not believe that the mining industry respects the rights of women, whether indigenous or non-indigenous. . We believe that the activities and exploitation of mineral resources by the global industry has led to further deterioration in the safety and rights of women in most of our countries. It has been proven over the years, and all over the mining countries, that the industry has no serious intent to respect the rights and dignity of women wherever it is working, as it is all about profit.

We further condemn this tokenism of awarding women within the formal industry, while the majority of the women working in the extractive industries are in the informal sector, marginalized and without any space for bargaining or negotiating for their rights as women mine workers. At the global level this technology-driven industry has admitted to the low percentage of women in formal employment and their presence in non leadership positions. Hence the industry has few direct benefits to offer to women globally.

On this occasion of the launch of the 100 inspirational women in mining, RIMM instead stands in solidarity with the millions of inspiring women from mining impacted communities who courageously defend their land, their livelihoods, their bodies and their very lives from rapacious and destructive mining industries. These are the women we celebrate. These are the women whose voices and demands that urgently need to be taken seriously by our nation states, international bodies, global corporates and the public.

We, the International Women and Mining Network, along with our partner communities and collectives of women all over the world, strongly call for our national governments to pursue a development framework that truly responds to the needs, and protects the rights of all peoples, and not that of mining corporations- a call that nurtures Mother Earth and all of us who depend on her for survival, for life.

The International Women and Mining Network (a global platform with member institutions and communities across Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the Americas).


Women and Mining Case Studies

3 December 2013

The International Women and Mining Network pays tributes to the brave women who have protected the lands, waters, forests, livelihoods and eco-systems of their ancestral homelands wherever physical destruction, constitutional violations and human rights violations have been practised by mining companies all over the world. It is these women whose voices should be heard, celebrated and respected for their contribution to natural resource protection and management and to the framework of sustainable development that comes from their traditional science and wisdom.

Here we pay our tributes to a few of these inspiring women and provide just a glimpse into the catastrophic corporate behaviour on human life and eco-systems that transnational mining companies are committing.

We salute the Dongria Khond women who have stood bravely confronting the state and corporate forces in protecting the forests and hills of Orissa, India

We bow our heads in respect to the courage shown by the martyrs to corporate induced crime and militarisation which have led to the extra judicial killings and repression of indigenous women like

They are but a few of our thousands of other sisters braving their lives to protect Mother Earth against the plunder of minerals by the global mining industry through violation of national laws and international human rights agreements and standards. These are the truly inspiring women of Mother Earth.

Some cases of violations by mining companies they are fighting are given below: (it is only a small testimony to the several other violations across the globe by the extractive industry and its associates.

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