From the 13th to the 16th of November the first exchange of women miners of the Boyacá department took place. Here, women were able to share experiences, projects and life lessons about their situation in the artisanal and small-scale mining subsector. Also, on the 13th of November, we received a visit of a delegation of the Embassy of Canada, country that finances the project Proudly Women Miners through the Fund for Local Initiatives (Fcil).
During the visit, four women who work in the gold industry of Suárez, Cauca and three people from the Embassy of Canada travelled to Sogamoso, Boyacá, to meet women coal-miners and potters of the region. This exchange was enriching for all, as the women were able to get to know other types of mining, speak about the gender stereotypes of the sector, and meet others who live in similar problematic circumstances.
The coal-miners, the SENA students and the potters of the Boyacá region shared their experiences with the Cauca miners, telling them about how, through Proudly Women Miners, they were able to strengthen their power and to promote gender equality within the mining sector by means of different activities. The group visited various coalmines, where the Boyacá women miners work, and chircales – traditional and artisanal compounds composed by sand mines and potter’s ovens – where the women potters work. Here, the women from Boyacá showed their work to the women from Cauca: pottery work and the functioning of the coalmines in the area.
“Being able to speak with all the women from Boyacá seemed to me like an excellent experience. They are very well organised women; they’re respectful and full of initiative. Their rights were violated just like ours, and this struck me, because I thought it only happened here in our region… but actually the women here now can completely identify with them.”
“Also, I loved the way they welcomed us, they treated us so well. They showed us where they work, told us their stories and shared many experiences.”
“I would like to thank ARM for their help because it is thanks to them that we get all these opportunities to discover different places and have new experiences. I realised that, thanks to ARM, the women of this organisation were able to improve and to change their vision of life. They’re women who learned a lot and are always looking to improve their and their families’ quality of life.”
One of the most enriching and emotional moments was the event in which participated the 60 women who form part of the AMME as well as the miners from Cauca and the representatives from Canada. During this event, the women from Boyacá explained how, with the Proudly Women Miners project, they received training in women’s rights and learnt how to react to and report gender equality violations in the mines protected by the Women’s Secretary of Sogamoso; how they participated in the creation of policies against gender violence in some mines, and in workshops about gender themes with men and women miners; how they received supplies for the development of tools that will promote gender equality in the mining sector; and how they attended certified courses on administrative, finance, project development, leadership and environmental themes provided by the National Training Service (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje ,SENA) in collaboration with the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM).
“ARM’s intervention was vital in our territory; it was essential to be able to participate in all the workshops, trainings and activities. They offer motivation, consulting and guidance that help the development of our activities.”
Furthermore, AMME’s head of the board, Luz Myriam Palacios Díaz, spoke about the process – facilitated by ARM – that brought coal miners, students of the SENA and potters, to form an association recognised by the community, and presented their newly designed logo.
The women from Cauca appeared thankful, and showed videos of their daily work, talked about their region and their job of mineral selectors and about what it means for them to be women miners.
“ARM helped us a lot. We designed the logo (of the ASOMUSELUPAZ association). We already have the logo ready for our shirts. We have everything for the mineral-processing project. They’re helping us so much. ARM also supported us in the field, with the work; we’re just waiting for more funds to come up for the help we need.”
The coal-miners of Boyacá spoke about how the Alliance for Responsible Mining helped them create an association and get organised to better share their role of women miners within the department.
For the women of Cauca and of Boyacá this was an incredibly productive week, full of new knowledge and challenges for the future. They all got engaged in the fight for promoting gender equality and to keep empowering women in the mining sector.
Proudly Women Miners
The exchange was sponsored by the Ford Foundation and within the framework of the Proudly Women Miners project, financed by the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (Fcil). Proudly Women Miners is a project that aims at empowering women who work in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector in Sogamoso, Mongua, Tópaga and Gámeza. We do this through the development of skills and the creation of an association of women miners. Furthermore, the project also involves the participation of coal-miners and chircales, with which we are working on organizational aspects to promote and work towards gender equality within the mining community.