Exploring the Distance between Ecofeminism and Women in Mining (WIM)


Laplonge, Dean. 2016. “Exploring the Distance between Ecofeminism and Women in Mining (WIM).” The Extractive Industries and Society 3 (3): 843–9. 

Author: Dean Laplonge


While there is existing work on the relationship between gender and mining in strands of environmental studies and resource studies, this paper moves away from generic feminist analyses of the environment and gender. Turning to ecofeminism, I argue that most debates that borrow from ecofeminism do not go beyond the maternalistic perspective that mining is anti-woman and thus anti-ecofeminist. This paper speaks to the gap in the literature by examining a specific group of gendered actors under the lens of ecofeminism, that is, women involved in the Women in Mining (WIM) movement. WIM represents a liberal feminism demand for equal opportunities for women in the otherwise heavily male-dominated and highly masculinised mining industry. However, in its current iteration WIM has not located its work within the discourse of ecofeminism, nor have its predominantly white, middleclass key stakeholders identified themselves as ecofeminists. As such, the complex intersectionalities of race, poverty, gender, age, class, and ideo-geographies are often neglected. In response, this paper queries, can ecofeminism and WIM enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship, and what might the impacts be for both sides of such a relationship? This paper begins with a summary of how the epistemological lens of ecofeminism can offer new understandings of and activism in the mining industry more generally. The next two sections present conceptual dialogues regarding how ecofeminism can challenge and reshape hegemonic practices and perspectives of WIM in its current iteration; and vice versa, how WIM can inform and enrich our understandings and applications of ecofeminism. In closing, the paper reflects on the apparent populist rhetoric of the two schools as incompatible partners.

Keywords: ecofeminism, gender, mining, women in mining, WIM

Topics: Age, Class, Environment, Extractive Industries, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender Analysis, Race

Year: 2016

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