MAC: Mines and Communities

The International Network, Women and Mining - An Appeal for Support

Published by MAC on 2004-02-25

The International Network, Women and Mining - An Appeal for Support

25 February 2004

The International Network Women and Mining is an organized movement of women who, by means of construction, participation and solidarity, work united with women miners and women affected by mining. The scattered voices of women from inside the mine-pits, from communities uprooted and from several parts of the world where they have been tortured, victimized, abused and exploited as a result of mining, decided to come together and sign a pact for life.

The Network brings together women from different mining regions across the world once in four years in one of its constituent countries so as to share experiences and build strategic alliance planning for collective campaigning.

In October of this year 2004, the network is organising the Third International Women and Mining Conference in India and is hosted by mines, minerals & PEOPLE. We wish to inform all groups working on the issues related to women and mining, about this conference and would like to know if there are any groups who wish to participate in the conference. We also appeal to groups who are associated with mining struggles and can assist in raising financial support for participants to travel to India, we will be happy to have your support.

The following is a brief overview of our concerns as a Network:

The work of women is still invisible, in spite of women contributing considerably to the economy of their countries, from reproduction to labour, in the recuperation of minerals in tailings and working in collective production units.

Mining has caused large-scale displacement of several communities, especially indigenous, whose basic life systems depend on land, forest and other natural resources. Women affected and displaced by mining are forced out of their social, economic and cultural environments leading to serious degradation in their quality of life.

Discrimination of women is still a constant factor in our daily life. Women have difficulties to get jobs, they do not receive equal salaries, they have limited access to concessions and credit. They are often ill-treated by employers and their husbands.

Productive activities of women in their families are often unpaid and unrecognised. Women help their husbands in mining and other productive activities, prepare food and care for their homes. The model is still based on oppression and discrimination.

The earth, rivers and air are contaminated with toxic waste, which seriously affects the health condition of miners and the rest of the population and causing malformations in children.

Human rights are still being violated and infact, on the rise.

Employment risks of women working in mining are high. Women in tradition, small scale, artisanal and independent mining are subject to unacceptable working conditions, affecting their health, life and human condition.

The neo-liberal policy of the global economy allows mining exploitation by companies which cause growing unemployment and loss of traditional means of livelihood to women. The exploitation of women is growing alarmingly. For the subsistence of themselves and their families, women are forced to accept any type of employment and even resort to the extremes of survival like prostitution. At the same time, children are less cared for and health problems are increasing. Family relations and cultural values are deteriorating.

Forced labour of children in mining due to the increasing poverty of our communities is denying them the possibilities of a fair and free life and future.

The increase in domestic violence, sexual abuse and alcoholism in mining areas is alarming, as well as the growing incidence of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS.

Laws and international agreements related to human rights including ancestral and cultural rights of indigenous peoples, social and economic rights and workers rights are not complied with, and sometimes not even ratified, by our governments and transnational companies.

Some governments allow the use of their natural resources like water in an irrational manner not guaranteeing access of communities to these resources.

Increasingly, land is taken away from indigenous peoples, by government who give their land to transnational companies, resulting in the loss of means of livelihood and the loss of access of local populations who are the legitimate owners of this richness to natural resources.

Women are fighting everywhere struggling to assert for rights to their communities, for their livelihoods and for their natural resources.

The International Network on Women and Mining - its objectives and mandate

The Pact for Life

AS A COMMITMENT OF THE NETWORK, WE ASSUME THE "PACT FOR LIFE", because the earth is our mother and the rivers are our mother´s milk. The earth is our life and death. Therefore we demand water for all, protected wells, rivers free from contamination and waste, an earth free from degradation.

WE WANT TO TAKE CARE of life in all its aspects, primary health care for all, the cleaning of toxic substances and pollutants, substitution of the use of toxic materials, and recycling of metal products. We need to raise the awareness of people on the care and maintenance of the environment and life.

WE COMMIT OURSELVES to break the silence and tell the world "we are angry because we are robbed. Because our poverty is increasing and we are abused, as well as our children and the environment".

WE DEMAND monitoring of mining companies, the rehabilitation of damaged resources, compensation for community rights that have been violated, for the diseases and accidents and loss of lives that we have suffered.

WE WILL WATCH OVER the respect of protected areas and the exclusion of mining from environmentally fragile areas, compliance with and respect of territorial rights and the exclusion of children from mine labour.

WE WILL WORK to make sure economic investments are used in sustainable alternative projects, respecting cultures and the right to self-determination of peoples, with equal opportunities for women in all productive areas, incorporating the problems of women in labour laws, just salaries and benefits for women to improve their situation, and access to credit.

WE WILL DEMAND the establishment of environment bonds, the ratification of legal provisions of countries that have progressed in this field, establishing drastic sanctions for those who infringe these laws and supporting simultaneous actions against multinational companies.

WE WILL FOCUS ON alternative ways of living for women in mining and women affected by mining. We will raise women's technological knowledge and disseminate information on the contribution of women to the national economy, considering the development of cooperative mining and other kinds of organisations as an alternative.

Conference Agenda

Day I:
Inaugural and Introductions and RIMM Reports half day

Day II:
i) Global Mining Situation Plenary on Gender Perspectives half day

Global Perspectives: Presentations:
§ Understanding Mining Economy from a Gender Perspective
§ Corporate Social Responsibility
§ International institutions, international bodies and gender
policies in mining

ii) Plenary session Issues concerning Women Workers in the Mining
Sector half day
§ Privatisation, Deregulation impact on Women Labour
§ Large scale mines to small scale mines impact on women miners
§ Impact of mining on Environment, Water, Health, Social and
Cultural lives of women workers
§ Women's Participation in Trade Unions, Cooperatives, Mining
campaigns Roles and Decision-making

Day III:
Plenary session Issues concerning women in communities displaced and
affected by mining half day

· Displacement and loss of livelihood of women affected by mining a
cost benefit analysis
· Greenfield areas existing mines abandoned mines: impact on women
in communities
· Environment, Water and Health Impacts due to mining on women
· Women in Mining Struggles roles and voices, decision-making
rights of women and exploring alternatives

Small Group presentations by participants and discussions from country
situations on Women's workers' issues half day

Day IV:
Small Group presentations and discussions by participants from country
experiences on Women in communities affected by mining half day
Groups' presentations of discussions half day

Day V to VII:
Visits to Mine sites 3 days

Sharing of experiences and issues that emerged in the mine sites
visits one day

Day IX:
Strategy and Planning for international network & Wrap Up one day

For further information contact Bhanu:

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