- Mining impacts communities and the environment and also provides livelihood to many. But the negative impacts of mining on women remain invisible to most.
- Women are part of the labour force in the mining industry, largely as casual labourers. So, there’s no clear indication about their numbers.
- Women working in India’s mining industry, living close to mining sites and belonging to families that depend on the industry for a living, are vulnerable to health issues and exploitation.
Mining is known to cause loss of land, loss of jobs, and loss in biodiversity. But the impacts on women often go unnoticed.
Women are part of a workforce that mines India’s 87 minerals. In fact, not long ago, in 2019, the labour ministry lifted the ban on employing women in underground coal mines. But there’s not much clarity on the actual number of women in India’s mining sector since a majority of them work as casual labourers. And the women working in these mines – large or small, legal or illegal – are vulnerable to health issues and exploitation.
Women who live close to mines, and those whose families depend on the mining industry, also bear invisible impacts. Watch the video below to know more about the invisible impact of mining on women.
You can also explore some of our stories from the Just Transitions series that bring forward the changes in women’s lives due to mining:
Panna: The dark underbelly of India’s diamond hub
Several women working in the diamond mines of Panna in central India are anemic. The lack of nutritious food and the rush to balance household chores and a job at the mine forces them to skip meals.
Lack of alternatives force women back to work in stone mines, which are health hazards
In Rajasthan’s Jodhpur region, women have lost husbands, brothers, and other family members to silicosis, a lung disease common in stone quarry miners. Compensation delays and lack of income options have forced these women to take up jobs in the same stone mines. And now, they are prone to silicosis.
Rajasthan’s phosphate mines deprive villagers of land, livelihood, health
In villages around phosphate mines close to Udaipur, many women have suffered miscarriages. The community firmly believes that pollution from mines is the cause.
Ignored and invisible: The burden of mining on women
A mining project could uproot communities, especially indigenous populations, with people getting displaced from their original homes and occupations. The struggle to survive pushes some women into exploitative jobs like construction labour, domestic help. Some are even forced into sex work.
Banner image by Taarini Ravjit.