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.

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