Earlier this month the Gaia team and a number of allies joined forces with the London Mining Network to demonstrate outside the ‘Mines and Money’ conference at the Business Design Centre in Angel. The event was, amongst other things, celebrating the work of women in the mining sector. We think it’s great when the efforts of women in the workplace are recognised, but this smelt rather more like a PR stunt to us. We felt it was important that the women whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed, were represented too. Here’s a couple of photos and below, the press release which went out before the demo. Thanks to all those who joined us in solidarity.
Press release from London Mining Network and The Gaia Foundation – Tuesday 3 December 2013
An event in London this evening promoting women in the mining sector is being challenged by organisations and individuals highlighting inspirational women from around the world who are engaged in resisting the ecological and social devastation caused by mining projects. The event is part of the annual “Mines and Money” conference held in London.
Members of London Mining Network (LMN), led by women from LMN member group the Gaia Foundation, will hold a vigil from 6pm to 7.30pm outside the champagne reception at the Business Design Centre in Islington, bearing placards featuring the names and faces of women guardians of the land from around the world, while a statement from the international Women And Mining Network (RIMM from its Spanish initials) will be read outside and then handed in to the organisers of the Women in Mining event.
The statement says that:
“We wish to expose the glaring contradiction between this form of tokenism towards gender equality, where the industry glorifies a few women working within the sector while it displaces millions of women from our homes, from our ancestral lands and properties, and makes us impoverished.”
Among the women activists celebrated by the placards to be displayed are:
1.The Makhadzi of Venda, South Africa, are guardians of a network of sacred sites whose health determines that of an entire ecosystem and the community. They are opposing CoAL of Africa’s plans to mine coal in their territory in a series of projects that would decimate water sources, the entire ecosystem and their traditional agricultural livelihoods. As they say, ” No water, No Life!”
2. Women in Doima village, Piedras, Colombia, have been at the forefront of the communities’ opposition to La Colosa mine and the tailings dam threatening their land and livelihoods. Rallying to blockade bridges and create a unified and pacifistic resistance movement, they have risen to protect the heart of the Cordillera, as guardians of the land.
3. A community educator in the National Association of Professional Environmentalists’ Sustainability School (Uganda), Alice Kazimura has been educating and supporting communities to protect their territory from land grabbing in the oil rich Buliisa district. In 2010 she was instrumental in preventing Tullow Oil Plc from taking community land in Kakindo: “We shall not sleep until Tullow backs off from our land. If it means going to the streets we shall go.”
Rowan Phillimore of the Gaia Foundation said:
“We are standing in solidarity with women around the world who are courageously opposing destructive mining projects. It is wrong that their efforts to protect life should go unrecognised whilst those within the industry are celebrated. We are holding this vigil to mourn and bear witness to the violations of our planet by aggressive mining companies, and to stand together as women for the protection and dignity of Life.”
Kerima Mohideen, Co-Chair of London Mining Network, said:
“This project is focusing on the career successes of small numbers of women within the male-dominated mining industry, while obscuring the realities of women around the world resisting the havoc brought to their communities by destructive mining developments.”
Glevys Rondon, Co-ordinator of LMN member group LAMMP (Latin American Mining Monitoring Programme) said:
“In Latin America women play a significant role in opposing destructive mining. Although these women are invisible to the industry, they are women who have lost their land and have been evicted and disregarded because they are women. Their children are ill with high levels of lead and other toxins in their blood, they have lost a relatives due to violent repression during peaceful protests or as a result of the mining conflict which is tearing apart families and communities. These women are not concerned with jobs; they are concerned about their survival and their capacity to endure more mining violence.”
The full text of the RIMM statement can be found below.
For more information/comment:
Rowan Phillimore, Gaia Foundation
email@example.com / 07748 945204 / 020 7428 0055
Richard Solly, London Mining Network
firstname.lastname@example.org / 07903 851695
International Women and Mining Network (Red Internacional Mujeres y Mineria – RIMM)
** ENDS ***
1) The Mines and Money conference is held annually in London to bring together mining companies and mining finance.
2) The Women In Mining Network brings together women working in the mining industry. Its champagne reception on 3 December is to launch a project on “100 Inspirational Women in Mining”.
3) The International Network on Women and Mining/Red Internacional de Mujeres y Mineria (RIMM) is an international alliance of women working against damaging mining projects and injustices in the mining industry. The network is hosted by Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children in India.
4) London is the world’s main centre for raising finance for the mining industry. Many of the world’s largest mining companies are based in the city or listed on the London Stock Exchange. London Mining Network is an alliance of 31 organizations working to support mining-affected communities and hold London-linked companies to account for environmental damage and human rights abuses connected with their operations around the world.
5) Gaia Foundation is committed to reviving and protecting cultural and biological diversity. It’ mission is to regenerate healthy ecosystems, enhance traditional knowledge and practices for land, seed, food and water sovereignty, and to strengthen community self-governance.
6) LAMMP supports women in Latin America affected by mining operations, seeking the inclusion of women in decision-making processes and all stages of mining policy development and practice.
Statement of Protest from the International Women and Mining Network
We, the International Women and Mining Network (Red Internacional Mujeres y Mineria – RIMM), today collectively speak out on the occasion of the Women In Mining launch of the 100 inspirational women in mining project at the Mines and Money conference of the global mining industry that is currently taking place in London (December 2013) .
While we acknowledge the struggles of women workers for equity and justice within the mining sector, our concerns and political allegiance lie with the many millions of women across the world who have lost/threatened to lose their lands, livelihoods, rights to integrity of body and self, and their dignity because of the deadly impacts of destructive mining. Through our action outside the Women in Mining (WIM) project launch, and through the work RIMM undertakes with affected women on all continents, we expose the human rights violations and abuses of the global mining industry. We wish to expose the glaring contradiction between this form of tokenism towards gender equality, where the industry glorifies a few women working within the sector while it displaces millions of women from our homes, from our ancestral lands and properties and makes us impoverished. In our collective experience across Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas, indigenous women, peasant and working class communities a strongly protest against:
– The global mining industry destroying Mother Earth and all its diverse resources that provide us with our food, incomes, shelter and social and cultural spaces to live;
– The pollution of our waters, lands and air which have serious negative impacts on our reproductive and respiratory health and well-being;
– The violation of the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and the breach of international agreements like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and its demand that the territorial and cultural rights of indigenous peoples be respected
– The use of toxic chemicals that pollute our waterways, underground water supplies and soils, negatively impacting our ecological and human safety.
– The illegal use of our children’s labour in hazardous mining activities and the overall social degeneration that arises from life in mining settings leaving our children vulnerable to all forms of social and mental abuse;
– The use of private mining industry security forces, combined with state police and military, to suppress our voices of protest and the harassment of our sisters through false criminal cases, intimidation, kidnapping, forced disappearances, rape and murder, which are growing alarmingly in most of our countries wherever minerals are found;
– Women’s unpaid labour – in the reproduction of the next generation of workers for the mines, in the healing of damaged nature, in the nursing of workers and community members made sick by hazardous working and living conditions – is a hidden and deep subsidy to the mining industries; The forced eviction and displacement of artisanal miners whose livelihoods are threatened by mining corporations and thrown into deep poverty;
– The implementation of superfluous corporate social responsibility related schemes and development incentives in the name of gender and women’s empowerment which do not provide us with any long term sustenance, dignity or right to a democratic life. We reject these programmes as they are diversionary, false and devoid of any serious intent to promote gender equality or parity within the home or the workplace;
– The lack of transparency, accountability and responsibility in the way business is often conducted with our governments and the accompanying cronyism that is destroying our democratic spaces and institutions of governance.
– The high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in all mining affected areas is directly related to the mining industry (South Africa in particular)
– The abuse of women’s dignity by the industry through the promotion of illegal contract marriages, prostitution, gambling, alcoholism and all other forms of anti-social activities that place women in highly vulnerable survival situations; and
– The utter break down of law and order, democracy and institutions that are intended to monitor, regulate and safeguard public safety and well-being.
Thus we strongly condemn these and several other brutal forms of abuse on us as women and do not believe that the mining industry respects the rights of women, whether indigenous or non-indigenous. We believe that the activities and exploitation of mineral resources by the global industry has led to further deterioration in the safety and rights of women in most of our countries. It has been proven over the years, and all over the mining countries, that the industry has no serious intent to respect the rights and dignity of women wherever it is working, as it is all about profit.
We further condemn this tokenism of awarding women within the formal industry, while the majority of the women working in the extractive industries are in the informal sector, marginalized and without any space for bargaining or negotiating for their rights as women mine workers. At the global level this technology-driven industry has admitted to the low percentage of women in formal employment and their presence in non leadership positions. Hence the industry has few direct benefits to offer to women globally.
On this occasion of the launch of the 100 inspirational women in mining, RIMM instead stands in solidarity with the millions of inspiring women from mining impacted communities who courageously defend their land, their livelihoods, their bodies and their very lives from rapacious and destructive mining industries. These are the women we celebrate. These are the women whose voices and demands that urgently need to be taken seriously by our nation states, international bodies, global corporates and the public.
We, the International Women and Mining Network, along with our partner communities and collectives of women all over the world, strongly call for our national governments to pursue a development framework that truly responds to the needs, and protects the rights of all peoples, and not that of mining corporations- a call that nurtures Mother Earth and all of us who depend on her for survival, for life.
The International Women and Mining Network (a global platform with member institutions and communities across Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the Americas)
Click below for case studies from the International Women and Mining Network