MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Girls in Mining

Published by MAC on 2008-07-20

Research, carried out last year by a team under the auspices of the International Labour Organization's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO.IPEC) has produced evidence that girls as well as boys are involved in hazardous work in the small-scale mining industry.

The team examined conditions for girls and young women at mines in Ghana, Niger, Peru and Tanzania. Concludes their report:

"The issue of girl child labour in mining is largely unknown, it is often not fully recognized by the law, and missed by the intervention services and the media...[E]vidence shows that the involvement of girl child labour in mining is much more frequent and far-reaching than was previously recognized. The assumption that girls are only involved in prostitution and domestic work is incorrect; girls are involved in tasks related to the extraction, transportation and processing stages of mining as well as in other mining-related jobs such as selling food and supplies to the miners.

"The gender balance appears to be shifting. Girls are involved in more and more hazardous occupations deeper into the interiors of the mine, but at the same time they are also upheld to their traditional female responsibilities in the home.

"The result is that girls in mining communities are forced to juggle their domestic tasks with other paid or non-paid work. Often, girls are performing just as hazardous tasks as boys, working longer hours, with a greater workload and often have a lesser chance of schooling, withdrawal or rehabilitation."

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