Women’s Roles, Challenges, and Opportunities in Small-Scale Mining: The Case of Indigenous People in Loacan, Itogon, Benguet, Philippines

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Gigy G. Banes


Small-scale gold mining is the primary livelihood of the Indigenous Peoples, specifically the Ibaloi's and Kankana-eys of Loacan, Itogon, Benguet. Mining is a part of their community life, providing the major means of livelihood for the people including women and children. This study documented the contextualized experiences of women in the community, specifically their vital roles, challenges, and opportunities in the small-scale mining set-up. The study employed descriptive qualitative exploratory research design specifically the key informant interviews and small focus group discussions. Results showed that gender roles are evident in the mining workplace. Men are more involve in the heavy works like digging or excavating ores while the women and children carries and processes the ores in the ball mill. The ball mill is considered as the women’s workplace—provided as avenue for them to negotiate their rights and welfare. Additionally, the women make decisions on health, education, reproductive and care role concerns, and on the general welfare of the community. Currently, the government’s order to close the small scale mining operation in Itogon is their paramount challenge as it resulted to higher unemployment rate. Amidst these, the women still play vital roles in the promotion of cultural value on equal sharing of resources.

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