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Vulnerable Sections

Participation of Indian Women in Mining Sector

Participation of Indian Women in Mining Sector


  • GS 3 || Governance & Social Justice || Vulnerable Sections || Women

 Why in News?

  • The Labour Ministry recently allowed for increased participation of women in underground mining.

Participations of Women

  • Mining is a sector which has the potential to be a key driver of economic growth, development and job creation in many developing countries.
  • Mining has been traditionally male-dominated across the world.
  • A 2013 report by Women in Mining (UK) and PricewaterhouseCoopers stated that the mining industry has the lowest number of women on company boards of any industry group worldwide.
  • India has put several laws that placed several restrictions on women working in the sector.
  • The Mines Act 1952 completely prohibited the employment of women in underground mines, and restricted them to work in above-ground mines only between 6 am and 7 pm.
  • When minerals and deposits are found close to the surface and spread across a large distance, the best way to mine is to use the open cast mining method.
  • Underground Mining is generally used for areas where the mineral seam is too far underground for open cut mining to be of use.
  • The labour ministry has recently amended the rules to allow women to work in underground mines during the day time and in opencast mines round the clock.

Significance of this Law

  • Despite the amendment, the discriminatory labour laws still prevail with women in underground mining can only occupy technical, supervisory and managerial positions.
  • The IIT-Indian School of Mines recently allowed female students into the mining engineering
  • With a start being made, the likelihood of further change to allow women miners has gone up.
  • Worker Population Ratio (WPR) is defined as the number of persons employed per 1000 persons.
  • As per the last round of the Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS) (in the year FY16), the worker population ratio (WPR) for females aged 15 years and above was 21.7% as compared to the male WPR of 72.1%.
  • Recent amendment to allow women to work in the mining sector bodes will curb gender disparity and boost equal opportunities for women in the long run.

Additional Info

Status of Women Coal Worker:

  • The gender divide and exploitation of women in India has a history of female infanticide,dowry deaths, unequal wages, high levels of illiteracy and mortality, caste-baseddiscrimination and other social evils, especially in mainstream Hindu societies.
  • A look atthe literacy figures should drive home this point –
  • while the literacy rate for total Indianpopulation is about 52.75% for male and 32.17% for female, the literacy levels amongScheduled Caste women is a mere 19% and for Scheduled Tribe women is 14.50%.
  • Particularly in the mineral rich states female literacy is abysmally poor – 3.46%, 6.88%,8.29% and 11.75% for Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Jharkhand respectively.

Way Ahead:

  • TheMMSD report of IIED in its section on women, admits the widespread negative impacts of mining on women and offers only solutions like ‘naturalising’ mining societies, by which they mean that mining companies should encourage miners to live with their families in the mining towns.
  • It urges women to participate in community programmesof the mining companies. However, for the women from the communities in India a fewbags of seeds, a few packets of medicines, a training programme on micro-credit or anawareness camp on health are no compensation to what they have lost for mining or whatfuture mining has to offer to them.