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What They Say: Women in Small Scale Artisanal Gold Mining

Juhuriyah (41) – Panner

Pariyah has been working in ASGM since elementary school, following her parents profession in mining. “Back then my job was to dig the soil using tools such as handspike and hammer. But since few years ago, I did not dig the soil anymore, I only clean the ores and then I sell it to people who own the processing machine to further process the ores to gold,” Pariyah explained. Normally Pariyah would sell one gram gold per week. She said she enjoys this work since it does not require any capital.  In her spare time, she also plants corn at the field near her house to complement her income. “From corn plantation, I could get consistent income since there are twice harvesting season in a year. It is very predictable”, she added. However, Pariyah mentioned that she never had access to financial capital, and she had never join any cooperative.

Siti Husain (42), Owner of Processing Machine

Siti Husain has been working in small scale mining activities since young as a panner, but only when she married with her current husband who owns processing machine that she had more access to financial capital from third party.  She is aware of the function of cooperative but she expressed her fear of conflict should there be a cooperative established within miners group. “We usually get capital from the owner of gold shop. I am afraid there will be conflict with the shop owner when the miners try to establish cooperative to be more self-sustain,” she explained. She repeats the key message that the most important thing for the miners to survive are the licensing first or formalization.

Rosida (36), Head of PKK and ‘Pendulang”

As head of women’s organization in the village (PKK), Horiyah mentioned that there are no programs yet concerning socialization on mercury. However, she explained that after this socialization event, she has become aware on the impacts of mercury to health and that the profession as ‘pendulang’ is the most vulnerable to mercury exposure. In terms of women’s access to information, there are special praying session for women in the village that could be used as well for socialization about mercury. “If we want to conduct socialization on mercury for women’s group in the village, the most important thing is to adjust it with their spare time. Normally it is in the morning between 9 – 12 pm when the children are at school,” she explained.

 

Marni Bekoni (42), Head of Village

Currently Marni is at her second round as Head of Village.She has been in the leadership position since 2012. She mentioned that almost all of the women in the village works as ‘pendulang’ whereas the men work as the miners who dig the soil and collecting ores. “There are 148 households here and almost all of them both women and men has been working as artisanal gold miners for 20 years now. Not to mention the miners that comes from outside the village,” she mentioned. She also explained that in the village, there are three households that have processing business. For organizing women’s group miners, she thinks that it would not be a problem since they already trusted her and she could demonstrate a good role model of women in leadership position in the village.  Last but not least, according to her, the most important thing for miners is to have formal permit / legalization since it will be the key important thing for further process. 

Riri (27), Puskesmas (Sub-District Health Facility) Staff

Puskesmas has socialization on health issue to community, but very limited resources about mercury. According to her, she had seen an information board near the river in the area that mentioned the danger of mercury. “Most of the women’s patient from mining area that came to Puskesmas had complaints about skin rush especially in the genital area and lower feet. That might be the symptoms of mercury? I don’t know for sure,”, she explained.