Women and Artisanal Mining: Gender Roles and the Road Ahead


Hinton, Jennifer, Marcello M. Veiga, and Christian Beinhoff. 2003. “Women and Artisanal Mining: Gender Roles and the Road Ahead.” In The Socio-Economic Impacts of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in Developing Countries, edited by G Hilson and A Balkema. Netherlands: Swets Publishers.

Authors: Jennifer Hinton, Marcello M Veiga, Christian Beinhoff


“In many locales, women function in multiple capacities. For instance, a women working as a panner may also obtain income as a sex trade worker and a cook.” (Hinton et. all, 2003, p. 2).

This article takes care to compare the situations of female miners in Africa, Asia and South/Latin America. In terms of percentage of artisanal miners who are female: Asia < South/Latin America < Africa

“In Guinea, although women undertake the same labour as men, inequities in pay (men are paid four times more for the same quantity of gold) often leads to a “troc”, or trade of sex for additional money or gold (USAID, 2000)” (p. 8).

“Although the chemical dangers, in particular, those associated with mercury and cyanide misuse, first come to mind, most occupational hazards are a consequence of poor physical conditions, such as ground failure, shaft collapses and machinery accidents” (p. 9).

Because of their involvement with the processing aspect of mining, women are at greater risk of chemical dangers and side effects.

“Chronic exposure to moderate levels of methylmercury results in symptoms including: visual constriction; numbness of the extremities; impairment of hearing; impairment of speech; and impairment of gait. In cases of acute intoxication, muscular atrophy, seizures and mental disturbance are prominent. Women of childbearing age and their children are particularly susceptible  as methylmercury readily crosses placental barriers and is considered to be a developmental toxicant (Grandjean, 1999). Depending on the frequency and degree of exposure, effects can range from sterility, and spontaneous abortion, to mild to severe neurological symptoms” (p. 11).

Importance of land rights and access to land in controlling, and thus benefiting from, commodities on that land.

“In a detailed study of gender and technology (Evert, 1998), it was found that interventions did not benefit women when: the ‘improvements’ were not more convenient and accessible than traditional sources or activities (e.g. clean water wells), modifications were directed towards commercial uses (e.g. development of forests for resale when fodder needs were not being met), and technologies were generally inappropriate (e.g. ‘improved’ stoves that did not consider the cultural value” (p. 23).

PDF includes a slide show presentation entitled “Women and Artisanal and Small Scale Mining: A Review of Roles and Issues” given by the author at the University of British Columbia. 

Topics: Development, Economies, Economic Inequality, Poverty, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Health, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Americas, Central America, South America, Asia

Year: 2003

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