Women miners will request a census and policies for their sector to candidates

After a process of reflection and diagnosis – the results were expressed in an institutional document – the National Network of Women in Mining (NNWM) will submit its sectoral proposals to candidates and partner institutions to develop effective public policies for these workers soon..

During the debate Women Miners Fighting for their Rights, which will be held on October 6 via Zoom and Facebook, different NNWM representatives will present their sector’s reality in health, education, environment, working areas, and, in particular, gender-based violence. 

They will also explain to the media and candidates in mining provinces the urgent need to address these aspects and the urge of organizing a census to learn about the number of women working differently in the mining sector. These actions will facilitate the implementation of appropriate policies from national, regional, and local bodies.

Women miners and their condition

While the exact number of women engaged in mining activities is unknown, an estimated 30% of miners are women. However, their work has poor public visibility, and their economic, social, or family contribution receives little recognition. This happens even in their productive organizations and residency communities.

Also, women miners are, to this day, victims of discrimination in various fields, including labor and politics, and sexist violence due to persistent patriarchal models in society.

Mining work, by its nature and peculiarities, is used for the implementation of discriminatory practices towards women as considering that this activity is “for men only.” The economic factor has also led to gaps in the salaries between men and women in mining, while poor education and vocational training prevent them from learning about their social and labor rights.

In addition to this outlook – which increases women’s vulnerability – it is necessary to consider the precarious conditions in which women execute their work, particularly in small-scale artisanal mining and individual mining work.

Simultaneously, the poor technical conditions in safety and health common in a significant part of the mining industry become a bigger threat for women due to their vulnerability and circumstances related to their gender. That is why they are more likely to develop and catch occupational diseases, which are also not considered by inadequate health services.

Core ideas of the proposals

The analysis of the problems of women miners, conducted by the principal agents themselves, propose initiatives that should be implemented by government institutions through appropriate policies, as they are part of the field of work, the organization, and the exercise of the rights established in the Political Constitution of the Government (CPE) and current regulation such as the Comprehensive Law to Guarantee Women a Life Free from Violence No. 348 and the Law Against Harassment and Political Violence towards Women No. 243, among others.

In this regard, around 120 women miners analyzed and proposed solutions on their rights to health, decent work, education, a healthy environment, a life free from violence, and other issues.

In this way, during the debate, its representatives will explain the productivity issues in cooperative mining due to poor occupational health and safety conditions (SySO), the need for minimum technical requirements for work, the urge to improve health and education services, to exercise rights and end sexist violence and discrimination in labor organizations.

NNWM communication

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Women miners get candidate commitments to access health insurance and fight violence

During the month of the 2020 general election in Bolivia, the National Network of Women in Mining (NNWM) submitted its sectoral proposals to candidates and institutions on Tuesday, October 6. These public policies proposals in the fields of health, education, gender-based violence, and environment are based on the feedback of more than 120 women miners attending NNWM workshops and meetings

During a debate this past Tuesday, representatives of the National Network of Women in Mining (NNWM) submitted proposals for creating government policies on health, education, work, the environment, the fight against violence, and the execution of a census. The Women Miners Fighting for their Rights event was attended by candidates for the Legislative Assembly of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) and Civic Community (CC), who pledged to manage and meet the demands of this sector.

Representatives of the miners presented the needs and demands of the sector one by one. Cladiz Bravo, an associate of the National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia (Fencomin-La Paz), explained that the Census would provide the number of women working in mining, in addition to their working conditions, their location in the national territory and their social and family situation, among other details.

Regarding the work, Sinforosa Rodríguez, a member of the NNWM in the Province of Potosí, noted that women miners have fewer opportunities to access the working areas due to the discrimination and complicated requirements. For this reason, the network proposes changes so that they have opportunities, on an equal footing with boys, to occupy adequate and enough working areas.

On the health issue, Gladis Ergueta from the Federation of Gold Mining Cooperatives of Northern La Paz (Fecoman) detailed that the primary diseases suffered by women miners are uterine prolapse, herniated disk, vision loss, cervical cancer, breast cancer, and skin cancer, which are not treated due to inadequate medical care and lack of health insurance. As a result, the proposal is for these services to be effectively expanded and accomplished, supported by the Government.

The fourth topic of the debate was conducted by Magalí Sardinas, from the Regional Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Potosí (Fedecomin), who shared the need to expand educational care in the districts and communities where mining activity exists. In this regard, effective alternative education is proposed due to the high illiteracy rate of women miners and the lack of educational background in areas that help them create undertakings.

Miroslava Gonzales, a member of Fecoman, referred to the contamination of the environment and drinking water due to the mining activity. She outlined to the authorities to focus on the treatment of toxic waste and garbage and address as a priority the permanent supply of drinking water in the regions where the mining work is executed.

The latest speaker, Isabel Aguilar, from the Cooperative Bolsa Negra of La Paz, emphasized the gender-based violence that threatens women miners physically and psychologically, violating fundamental rights and social and political rights. In this way, she outlined socialization and compliance with the existing laws that promote women’s rights to a life free from violence (Law No. 348) and against political harassment (Law No. 243). These actions must include men so that they also know the legislation to understand and comply with it.

Interventions and commitments

During the debate, the candidates for the Legislative Assembly of MAS and CC pledged to take action and management to execute the proposals of the women miners if elected as representatives to the Legislative Body.

“Honestly, we have not included this topic on the plan we prepared. But now that you mention it, at the Legislative Assembly, we will give priority, especially to certain aspects such as social security and health services,” said Silvia Salame, the candidate for the first senator from CC in Chuquisaca.

“I will promote, as a woman who wears a pollera, from the Legislative Assembly all the needs in matters of service, environment, garbage and the unified health system, so that all our sisters can receive mandatory medical care. We’re also going to encourage our sisters to have a portion of milk every day with Proleche,” said Virginia Velasco, a candidate for the first senator from MAS in La Paz.

Other candidates, such as Cecilia Requena, for first senator from CC in La Paz, or Estefanía Morales, a candidate for first at-large representative from MAS in Santa Cruz, which also received the proposals and said that, if elected, they will manage to address health and work needs, but in particular to ensure a life without violence for women working in mining.

NNWM communication  

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