MAC: Mines and Communities

Report on National Seminar on Women and Mining

Published by MAC on 2003-10-15

Report on National Seminar on Women and Mining

Bolivia, October 2003

The preparatory activities for the National Seminar on Women and Mining were started in the month of December 2002 itself. The mines, minerals & Peoples (mm&P) third National Convention (held in December 2002) provided an occasion for informing and discussing with the mm&P members the need for the National Seminar and the way it should be conducted. Discussions were also held with the women from the various struggle groups on the issues that needed to be raised. A preparatory meeting was also held during the same period.

The preparatory work that went into the Seminar included:

1. Preparing comprehensive background papers on the different themes identified for the seminar
2. Contacting experts on various themes identified and eliciting their participation
3. Collecting and compiling their papers prior to the Seminar for distribution and also translating into Hindi for distribution to the groups from the Hindi Speaking states
4. Sending invitation letters (multilingual) to different grassroots groups and compiling their responses
5. Arrangements for the Seminar hall and accommodation for the Participants
6. Logistical arrangements including local travel for the some participants
7. Organising preparatory meetings with the mm&P members and working committee)

It was decided that the format for the seminar should provide an opportunity for the women coming from different parts of the country also to share their experiences. With this in view each session was broadly divided into the following segments: presentation of papers by select resource persons followed by experience sharing (testimonials) by the women from the communities followed by open discussions on the theme. On the Second day a couple of hours were earmarked towards the end for summarization and future planning and direction.

The Working Committee of mm&P took decisions on the subjects, themes, participants, venue and other issues of the national seminar in both its meetings prior to the seminar. A preparatory meeting was organised in Delhi to plan the logistics, travel, media, resource persons and other matters of the seminar.

The seminar itself was very successful, with 111 participants from 12 states participating in the two day seminar. For the first time the issue of impact of mining on women was focused at the National level. It provided an opportunity for the women from the different struggle groups, women displaced by mining, women miners and also some experts from Delhi to (present and share their experiences and perspectives)put forth their views. This helped generate a deeper understanding of the status and issues of women in mining communities in India and strengthened the collective voice of women in mining.

A press conference was organised in Delhi preceding the seminar where the women miners, adivasi women from communities affected and women working on mining issues had for the first time, an opportunity to highlight their problems to the national media.

The report is being translated into three regional languages Hindi, Oriya and Telugu which are the predominant areas affected by mining - so that the grassroots groups can also use the document for their future campaign work understand the deliberation at the National Seminar.

The report in English has already been sent to the participants and various interested groups and the feedback has been very encouraging. In addition to the awareness created as part of the Seminar, the report is also helping highlight the issue of women and mining.

A review meeting of the national seminar and a preparatory meeting for the Third International Women and Mining Conference was held immediately after the national seminar. One of the key functional outcomes of the Seminar was a clearer direction on the Third International Conference on Women and Mining to be held in India in 2004. It was decided that we have to put in a great deal of effort in hosting and organising the third conference. Another follow-up meeting was held in Ranchi in June 2003 to discuss the details of preparatory work which would be discussed by the mm&P participant in the meeting at La Paz, Bolivia, in October 2003.

A National Level Organising Committee for the Conference was established and this committee met in Ranchi in July 2003 to discuss the preparatory work to be done for the International Conference.

Bhanu from the National Secretariat participated in the preparatory meeting of RIMM in Bolivia from 6th to 11th October 2003. After this preparatory meeting, the National Secretariat has started working on the following activities for the third conference:

> Identification of International groups who could participate in the Conference especially from the Asia Pacific Region

> Communicating to other mining networks, human rights groups and members of RIMM for inputs in preparation of the conference and to coordinate between regions and making proposals for fund raising.

> Preparations are also going on to utilize the platform of the WSF (Mumbai 2004) to strengthen the network of Women and Mining. The International Organising Committee will also meet once again at the WSF.

> We are in the process of forming a core team which will assist the Organising Committee in the preparatory work of the IIIrd International Conference on Women and Mining.

> The proposal for the Conference is also being prepared and will be finalized soon.

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