This study highlights women’s participation in small scale mining, and their occupational safety and health conditions. Small scale mining is a significant source of income in many developing countries such as the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Colombia, Indonesia, Mali, and Zimbabwe. In the Philippines, small-scale mining has been the leading occupational group among all mineral industries. However, data show that women face many issues in mining such as double burden of work-home responsibilities, chemical exposure to either cyanide or mercury used in extracting gold, dust from manganese and other minerals, and respiratory and systemic diseases from toxic chemical exposures. Mining work is also labor-intensive and hazardous. Women work longer hours and have no social safety net. Gender sensitive strategies on occupational health and safety of women in small scale mining should be implemented. For long term development goals, women should be given alternative and more environmentally sustainable forms of employment. Gender equality and equity should always accompany any policy response as the impact goes beyond the employment and labor sector, to the overall stability of society considering the varied roles and functions that women take in both the public and private spheres of life.

Note on the Author

Jinky Leilanie Lu is Research Professor 7, Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies, Environmental and Occupational Health Study Group, National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila.