MAC: Mines and Communities

The International Network, Women and Mining Newsletter No. 7

Published by MAC on 2004-03-15

The International Network, Women & Mining Newsletter No. 7

March 2004

Prepared by the International Coordination of the International Network "Women and Mining"
P.O. Box: 7832
La Paz - Bolivia
Phones: 00591-2-2121686 / 2420480
E-Mail India:

1. Editorial

Many people and organisations support us for this electronic newsletter. We have pleasure in hereby sending you Electronic Newsletter No. 7 of the International RIMM Coordination. It is the first number of this year in which we will hold the III Conference in India.

We take this opportunity to thank the institutions that have been working with us for many years to establish this alliance among women working and living in mining communities, unionised women of the mining sector, grassroots organisations and women from communities affected by mining.

We believe we should mention some of the institutions that have supported us in the past or that are currently supporting our actions and that have made a significant contribution to development of the International Network "Women and Mining". They have contributed to preparation of the newsletters, reports, tickets for delegates to attend conferences and translations.

At the origin, we have Minewatch from England and Women Workers Program from the Philippines for organisation of the I Conference in Baguio - Philippines in 1997. We also received support from Boliviacentrum in Belgium, CEPROMIN and other Bolivian NGOs for preparation and realisation of the II Conference in Iroco - Bolivia in 2000.

The III Conference is being organised with support of mines, minerals & People, a national alliance of mine workers and organisations concerned with the mining issues, as a host. RIMM in Bolivia receives constant support from Boliviacentrum and since 2003; we also receive a considerable contribution from the Danish Cooperation Program for the Environment, for the edition of electronic newsletters and other types of support for the National Network in Bolivia.

It is almost impossible to mention all institutions, organisations and women who have contributed to the advancement of RIMM. Hence, we thank all for their solidarity from 1995 until today.

2. World Social Forum - India - Mumbay 2004

The fourth World Social Forum took place in the NSE Grounds, Goregaon, Mumbai - India between 16th and 21st of January. Many people feel that the growing importance of this forum for different social movements, non-governmental organisations dedicated to global issues, popular organisations and government representatives with social commitments has started to give rise to contradictory expectations and discussions.

This debate becomes even more necessary as this Forum is explicitly or implicitly articulates growing anti-globalisation sentiments, expressed through effective actions, opposing the prevailing trends of international organisations in favour of powerful economic interests going against the needs of the majority of the world population.

But the evolution of today's economy towards the hegemony of the services sector over industrial activities has significantly changed the nature of social movements. Today, there is a mass of salaried workers who are subject to less rigorous conditions of discipline as compared to industrial salaried workers, insofar as their work is less directly conditioned by the movement of machines, the precision of which does not allow for any flexibility.

Changes in the economic and material conditions of the production have had a growing impact on the institutional behaviour and the concept of organisation of social actions. It is therefore natural that in the end these changes also affect the behaviour of the social movements and political parties; besides, we are now faced with new and more complex actors in this new reality, i.e. the non-governmental organisations.

In this sense, both in the organisation and development of the latest Forum, the NGOs played a very important role as they participated in different work groups. One of the work groups focused on Mining and was organised by mm&P - mines, minerals & People - a RIMM member.

This group works with the purpose of:

Ø Supporting local struggles.
Ø Legal and media advocacy.
Ø Information, documentation, research and fact finding.
Ø Developing campaign strategies.
Ø Skill share, Jatras, Exchanges.
Ø National and International networking
Ø Technical and scientific expertise.

The following speakers participated in this work group:

Roger Moody from England, Bong Corpus, Vicky Corpus and Joan Carling from the Philippines, Jaime Kneen from Canada, Abdula Darimani from Ghana, Stuart Kirch from the United States, Siti Maimunah from Indonesia, Armando Pérez from Colombia, Karyn Keenan and Miguel Palacin from Peru, Leticia Miranda from Bolivia, etc.

The speakers agreed that there is a latent need for the mining operations to assume not only environmental responsibility, but also a responsibility for human development based on the respect for human rights.

It is worth underlining that this version of the Social Forum analysed the need for the traditional social forums to change their methods of acting which no longer correspond to forms of the productive process in expansion. They should adapt to new forms of collective discipline, with less verticality and more interaction, in the same line as people perceive their work relationships; even in basic entities like schools, education is quickly reflecting these changes.

This way, these new organisational styles are reflecting very radical changes in the social behaviour, ensuring more effectiveness. It is therefore a rebellion inside the institutions created by today's society.

That explains part of the deep malaise affecting humanity in the last two decades. The outdated social relationships and ideologies try to stop the progress of humanity to maintain its privileges and advantages. This limits the progress in human thinking and it is an attempt to insert social movements that arise from the basis of society in archaic institutions.

The World Social Forum and the anti-globalisation movements are a reflection of the need for a new generation to get rid of the actions imposed by those reactionary limitations. They even reveal a colossal sensibility towards demands of a cultural identity.

Likewise, the hunger, illiteracy, subhuman work, child labour and many other evils, which capitalism could not resolve within the framework of unequal and concentrated globalisation, can be perfectly solved in the context of the insertion of civil society in decision-making processes.

It is interesting to see how these organisations accept the different agreements obtained in the leading spheres of humanity under the protection of the United Nations in the nineties, as well as resolutions of the Millennium Summit, as a valid agenda to unite these very different social movements for conceiving a new possible world.

3. Host of the III International Conference "Women and Mining" India - 2004

During the II Conference in Bolivia in 2000, with the consent of all participants the Indian delegation was chosen to host the III Conference.

This very important event for women mineworkers and women affected by mining is drawing nearer; we are making headway in the joint preparation with mm&P, headquartered in Hyderabad in the south-central part of India.

mm&P is a national alliance of individuals, institutions and communities who are concerned and affected by mining. It consists of more than 100 grass- root groups and about 20 diverse support organisations across sixteen states of India.

The purpose of mm&P is
§ To identify strategies for different campaigns related to mining.
§ To gather information and documentation.
§ To consolidate capacities aimed at an exchange.
§ To set up a National and International Network.

Its future challenges are:
§ To ensure a uniform and well-balanced mining policy.
§ To protect the rights of indigenous communities.
§ To explore sustainable alternatives for mining exploitation.
§ To support people so they can control the mineral resources.
§ To resist environmental destruction.
§ To supervise the mining industries at the global and Indian level.

One of the states where mm&P operates is Visakhapatnam, venue of the III Conference.

4. Second RIMM - mm&P Coordination Meeting, Mumbai, January 19, 2004

The Second Coordination Meeting to continue preparation of the III Conference - India 2004 - took place during the World Social Forum with participation of Joan Carling from the Philippines representing the organisation Cordillera, Siti Maimunah from JATAM - Indonesia, Bhanu Kalluri from mm&P, Leticia Miranda from the International RIMM Coordination, and at the invitation of mm&P, men and women mineworkers representing Indian communities, mostly related to the work of SAMATA and mm&P; Karyn Keenan from Canada who is currently working in development cooperation in Peru helped out with Spanish - English translation and Sunita Dubey helped out with translation into and from Hindi.

Some points that were discussed:
-Venue: Visakhapatnam
-Duration of the III Conference: 9 days, October 1 - 9
-The need was underlined to have a final agenda as soon as possible.
-Joan Carling said that the Philippines could pay the tickets for Asian participants, including Indonesia.
-Furthermore, it was informed that in March 2004, there will be a community meeting in the Philippines, with participants from India, the Philippines and Indonesia.

5. A Legislative Framework to Transform the Mining Industry

Tania Bowers - National Women Structure Chairperson - NUM - Sud Africa

As South Africa prepares to celebrate its first decade of democracy, we are overwhelmed by the socio-political changes that have taken place so far. These changes have played a significant role in transforming the lives of historically disadvantaged South Africans. Despite the slow pace of economic transformation the ANC led government has succeeded in laying a foundation through legislation and other economic policies.

Women, in particular, have been the subject of dual oppression within the economy and society at large. It is against this backdrop that the enactment of the Employment Equity Act and the Skills Development Act presents an excellent opportunity for women to affirm themselves in the workplace and within society. Critical to this, is the ability to translate the content of these Acts into practical actions that will yield desired results, in terms of transformation. One of these policies is entrenched in a legislative framework called the Mining Charter. This Broad-Based Socio-Economic framework is primarily aimed at accelerating economic transformation and eradicating past discriminatory practices manifesting themselves in the gender stereotypes and racial philosophy.

The mining industry is generally characterised as white dominated and hostile to women. The Mining Charter thus creates an opportunity to transform this environment into a more caring industry that embraces employment equity in recognition of a democratised South Africa.

During the 2001, Chamber of Mines negotiations, the National Union of Mineworkers tabled a demand for 10% employment for women in the industry. This agreement served as groundwork for employment equity and laid a foundation that now compliments the set objectives of the Mining Charter.

The Charter focuses on a number of pillars which includes:
- Employee Share Ownership Schemes (ESOPS)
- Beneficiation
- Women
- Housing and accommodation
- Community and social development
- Human resource development
- Ownership in mining

As the NUM women structure, our focus is on creating an enabling environment for women to work in the mining industry. Recently we have experienced that increased pregnancy of women mineworkers presents a challenge to employers, particularly in terms of the health and safety of both the mother and child. This includes issues of radiation exposure, alternative work and the need for modified protective clothing, etc. A number of mining houses are in the process of reviewing their pregnancy policies in order to accommodate this natural phenomenon. Critical to this is the fact that these discussions should not create a barrier for the employment of women working underground, but should be viewed as part of creating the enabling environment.

It is important that we remain focused in terms of the objective, namely, to advance the empowerment of women as economically active participants by eradicating all forms of discrimination, whether based on job reservation, gender or race.

For this reason the NUM, in collaboration with mining houses, will embark on career development programmes that expose students to possible opportunities within the mining industry. In addition to this it is important to change perceptions that the mining industry is unsafe and male dominated. To achieve this objective it is thus incumbent upon the union and employers to review all business policies and embark on training initiatives to ensure gender sensitivity. In particular, sexual harassment policies serve to regulate the relationships between males and females. We continue to face the challenge of eradicating patriarchy that manifests itself through the power relations between men and women. Women, on the other hand, need to embrace these changes, become self-confident and shed their socialised sense of inferiority.

Housing and accommodation for black mineworkers remains a continuous struggle. Male single sex hostels, a consequence of the migrant labour system, are considered fertile ground for the spread of HIV and Aids. By implication this system has also contributed towards the corrosion of family values resulting in a range of socio-economic problems, relegating the position of women in society. In light of this NUM will continue its campaign for decent accommodation and the establishment of family units.

The Charter also aims to address issues relating to changing ownership patterns, particularly in relation to women. This aspect is aimed at giving women opportunities to engage in business, placing them in decision-making positions. The focus is thus on areas such as procurement, skills development and black economic empowerment, etc. As the NUM we are faced with the challenge of initiating projects that will empower local communities to generate enough skills for women to explore these opportunities in business.

Given the fact the Charter offers various opportunities and that the NUM has set standards for women in mining, we must remain focused and not allow forces of opportunism to derail the true intent of this significant piece of legislation.

As NUM we will remain committed to ensuring that the objectives of the Mining Charter are realised and hope that we will be able to share our experiences with the international arena. It is our intention to strengthen the plight of women by finding solutions that will contribute towards affirming our position as key stakeholders in society, as opposed to the intentions of patriarchy.

6. Update of the RIMM Documentation Centre

During operation as the RIMM Coordination instance, we have received a considerable amount of documents, books, magazines and other material of interest for the sector.

We want this important information to be available to anyone who may be interested in reviewing it, therefore, have made the RIMM Documentation Centre available to organisations, member institutions and the public in general at our website:, as well as physically at our office in La Paz - Bolivia.

The RIMM Documentation Centre is composed of two sections:

Ø One Spanish section that contains 198 titles, on topics such as gender, mining, environment, human rights, economy and others.
Ø One English section, containing 95 titles. Most documents in this section were sent electronically by RIMM member organisations.

Until 2003, this database was designed using the UNESCO Win Isis software. But as many people who wanted to access the documentation did not have this software, we realised that it was necessary to standardise this information, using Microsoft Access 2000. This package enables Internet access, besides other advantages such as the management of large quantities of information, comfortable interfacing with the final user, storage structuring and data integrity.

We hope this information will be very helpful for all of you.

7. Preparing for the III Conference India 2004, with a Document on:

- Development of mining experiences in which demands have been will be incorporated in public policies.
- Development of experiences in which women miners have been and will bi incorporation in decision-making.

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