Being a woman in the small-scale and artisanal mining industry

Women's work in the Bolivian mining industry is a reality that in recent years has taken on significant dimensions that need visibility


Mirian Calla Gómez

Secretary of Women at Torojchi Cooperative


María Flor Soto

Barranquillera from Tipuani village

72% do not have access to sewage systems, so infectious stomach diseases are among the leading causes of death for women


María Flor Soto

“The hardest thing to do in the barranquilleo is to stay healthy”

María Flor Soto is a barranquillera from the town of Tipuani and a member of the NNWM. Women who engage in the same activity as María catch respiratory diseases by wearing their clothes wet due to gender inequality in Bolivia.
Alluvial mining, which consists of retrieving gold around watercourses using artisanal methods, is called barranquilleo in Bolivia. Barranquilleo is the primary economic support for thousands of people like María Flor.

“When I used to get out of the river all wet, my fellows would tell me to change my clothing, but I would refuse because the dressing rooms are not safe at all.``

Thus, those who engage in this job quickly catch respiratory diseases because they leave the river with wet clothes.
Also, one of the main safety risks is related to the dredging (removal) of the wet soil when coming to rocks that detach. 72% also do not have access to sewage systems, so infectious stomach diseases are among the leading causes of death for women.

Mirian Calla Gómez

“My regular workday is complicated”

My name is Mirian Calla Gómez, and I am the Secretary of Women in the Torojchi Cooperative, in the province of Potosí, located in a rural area. My regular workday is complicated. I am currently living in Potosí, and I work in the rural area, so I have to wake up at four in the morning to cook for my children, and at six in the morning, I go to work
At work, we clock in, I enter the mine with my crew and then leave at four in the afternoon to return to Potosí to cook dinner, and review and enforce schoolwork for my children at night. The next day I have to return, sometimes I don’t go back after two or three days, even the whole week, depending on the children. I need to keep an eye on their school matters. Sometimes there are no jobs to be done. Due to the strikes, everything was closed, they were striking, and I had to do everything possible to feed my children. I know how to do other things like weave, laundry, among others.

The concept of a double working day is a self-perception of women miners related to the multiple functions they perform as homemakers (cooking, cleaning, childcare) and the simultaneous execution of their mining work.

National Network of Women in Mining