Mining and Women in Northwest Mexico: a Feminist Political Ecology Approach to Impacts on Rural Livelihoods

Citation:

Lutz-Ley, América, and Stephanie J. Buechler. 2020. “Mining and Women in Northwest Mexico: a Feminist Political Ecology Approach to Impacts on Rural Livelihoods.” Human Geography 13 (1): 74-84.

Authors: América Lutz-Ley, Stephanie J. Buechler

Abstract:

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: 
Women’s participation in large-scale mining (LSM) has been increasing in Mexico and worldwide; however, few comprehensive studies exist on the socioeconomic effects of mining on women depending on the specific roles they play in this activity. The objective of this study was to analyze, from a feminist political ecology perspective, the effects of mining on women in a rural community in Sonora State, in arid northwest Mexico, a region with important participation of LSM in the country. For this purpose, we developed a mixed methods approach combining literature review on gender and LSM, semistructured indepth interviews, and analysis of secondary government data. Most literature on women and mining treats them conceptually as a homogeneous social group or focuses on only one role women play in mining. We address this gap by identifying several roles women can play in their interactions with the mining sector and then analyzing and comparing the effects of mining associated with these distinctive roles. In doing so, we unravel the gendered complexities of mining and highlight the socioecological contradictions embedded in these dynamics for individual women who are faced with significant trade-offs. Mining can provide economic and professional opportunities for women of varying educational and socioeconomic levels in otherwise impoverished and landless rural households. At the same time, women are unable to, as one interviewee phrased it, “break the glass ceiling even if using a miner’s helmet,” especially in managerial positions. Extraction of natural resources in the community is accompanied by the extraction of social capital and personal lives of miners. We give voice to the social– ecological contradictions lived by women in these multiple roles and offer potential insights both for addressing gender-based inequities in mining and for avenues toward collective action and empowerment.

SPANISH ABSTRACT: 
La participación de las mujeres en la minería de gran escala se ha incrementado en México y alrededor del mundo; sin embargo, existen escasos estudios comprehensivos de los efectos socioeconómicos de la minería sobre las mujeres dependiendo de los roles específicos que ellas juegan en esta actividad. El objetivo de este estudio es analizar, desde la perspectiva de la ecología política feminista, los efectos de la minería sobre mujeres de una comunidad rural del estado de Sonora, en el noroeste árido de México; una región con importante participación de la minería de gran escala en el país. Con este propósito desarrollamos un acercamiento metodológico mixto, combinando el análisis de literatura sobre género y minería de gran escala, con entrevistas semiestructuradas y análisis de datos secundarios producidos por agencias gubernamentales. La mayoría de los estudios sobre mujeres y minería las concibe conceptualmente como un grupo social homogéneo, o se centran solamente en uno o dos roles de las mujeres en la minería. En este trabajo se cubre esta brecha mediante la identificación de múltiples roles que las mujeres pueden desempeñar en sus interacciones con el sector minero y el análisis comparativo de los efectos de la minería asociados con estos distintos roles. De esta manera, se desentrañan las complejidades de la minería vistas desde el género y se enfatizan las contradicciones socio-ecológicas inmersas en estas dinámicas para mujeres que enfrentan costos individuales significativos. La minería puede proveer oportunidades económicas y profesionales para mujeres de distintos niveles educativos y socioeconómicos en hogares rurales empobrecidos o sin tierras productivas. Al mismo tiempo, las mujeres no han podido, en palabras de una minera, “romper el techo de cristal ni usando un casco minero”, especialmente en posiciones de mando. La extracción de recursos naturales en la comunidad se acompaña de la extracción de capital social y el tiempo de vida personal de las mineras. Se da voz a las contradicciones socio-ecológicas vividas por mujeres que ocupan estos múltiples roles y se ofrecen visiones potenciales para atender estas inequidades basadas en el género en la minería, así como posibles caminos hacia la acción colectiva y el empoderamiento.

Keywords: women in mining, feminist political ecology, rural livelihoods, northwest Mexico, extractivism, mujeres en la minería, ecología política feminista, medios de vida rurales, noroeste de México, extractivismo

Topics: Environment, Feminisms, Feminist Political Ecology, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico

Year: 2020

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