Gender Equality and Corporate Social Responsibility in Mining: An Investigation of the Potential for Change at Kaltim Prima Coal, Indonesia


Mahy, Petra Karolly. 2011. “Gender Equality and Corporate Social Responsibility in Mining: An Investigation of the Potential for Change at Kaltim Prima Coal, Indonesia.” PhD thesis, Australian National University. 

Author: Petra Karolly Mahy


This thesis presents an evaluation of the potential for gender equality to be promoted through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in mining. Research was conducted at Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC), a major coal mining company located in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Since the fall of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesia has increasingly embraced the concept of CSR as meaning the delivery of community development programs by large companies. Indonesia has also become decentralised and district governments and local communities have increased their demands for greater benefits from resource exploitation. Companies such as KPC have had to become active agents of development.

Large-scale mining companies tend to employ majority male workforces and may have a series of gendered ‘impacts’ on local communities. Where mining companies act as development agencies their programs may also cause further social change. This thesis presents an evaluation of the potential for mitigating gendered impacts and striving for gender equality through CSR specific to KPC. It also looks outwards from this one specific case study of KPC to evaluate the recently developed guidelines on gender in mining by the World Bank, Rio Tinto and Oxfam Australia.

This thesis is divided into three parts. Part I considers the various drivers of the CSR agenda and argues that due to the role of the male-dominated district government and local interest groups in driving the CSR agenda, women’s voices are marginalised from CSR debates. Part II presents an analysis of the gendered impacts of KPC’s mining operations taking the literature on the ‘impacts of mining on women’ as a starting point. Particular attention is paid to how female sex workers are depicted in this literature. The thesis demonstrates that while there is certainly a strong case for needing to mitigate the gendered impacts of mining, the ‘impacts of mining on women’ approach tends to exaggerate ‘impacts’ and emphasise ‘victimhood’ and to assume that all women have similar experiences of living in mine-affected communities. The evidence from KPC shows that in fact women’s experiences of mining are very diverse. Part III investigates the gendered aspects of community development policy and implementation. An analysis of KPC’s livelihoods and HIV prevention programs reveals that there are a number of inherent limitations within the CSR paradigm that inhibit the achievement of gender equal outcomes, including the propensity for the company to place business objectives ahead of development aims and to use CSR benefits as a way of pacifying vocal groups. As these vocal groups are usually male, women tend to be overlooked as CSR beneficiaries. This thesis argues that the guidelines by the World Bank, Rio Tinto and Oxfam, while they do make some positive contributions to the discourse on mining and gender, all assume the existence of homogeneous women victims of mining. They also fail to recognise the inherent political and gendered limitations within CSR, and thus need to be re-evaluated in order to be more effective tools for change.

Topics: Development, Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Indonesia

Year: 2011

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