Gender mainstreaming in Indonesia’s mining industry

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Workshop on gender mainstreaming in mining industry Female operators in a mining company.

“My male colleagues usually offer help for tasks like lifting battery panels. ‘You do not need to do this. Let us do it.’ Even though I think I am physically capable, but the men in the room think that the job is not suitable for me to do,” said Gracia, a female technician working at an Indonesian mining company.

Similar comments were often found during interviews we conducted with female employees in Indonesia’s mining industry for an ongoing gender mainstreaming study. They are commonly exempted from physical tasks since it is considered as not in accordance with female gender roles. Male employees would may also feel ashamed to see women conducting hard labor if there are still men around to do the job.

Government’s perspectives

Gender mainstreaming is the inclusion of both men’s and women’s perspectives in designing policy and carrying out its implementation with the goal that any policy or programs being delivered will be gender-sensitive.

As a vehicle towards gender equality, gender mainstreaming can be part of the solution to inform policies to improve gender imbalance in the mining industry . To illustrate, based on the 2019 national labor survey, women comprise less than 10% of the sector’s total workforce. This low representation breeds concern that the benefit of the industry is not shared equally among women and men.

Women, including those in communities, are often seen as being more vulnerable in each of the mining development stage – from exploration to closure. They are at risk of being excluded from employment and the consultation process and are affected differently by mining operations due to their gender-related roles.

Presidential Instruction Number 9 Year 2000 mandated gender mainstreaming to be incorporated into all economic development processes. Up to today, gender equality is among the national mainstreaming agendas also included in the National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2020–2024.

In the mining context, there are several ways towards equality.

Gender mainstreaming and women empowerment in Indonesia’s extractive industries can be imposed through improving women’s quality of life, strengthening institutions and paying more attention to budget allocation ,” said Woro Srihastuti Sulistyaningrum, Director of Family, Women, Children, Youth and Sport, National Development Agency during a the workshop on overview of gender mainstreaming in extractive industries in Indonesia.

Female operators in a mining company
Female operators in a mining company.


Practices of gender mainstreaming

Based on current findings of our ongoing study on gender mainstreaming in Indonesia’s mining industry  funded by the government of Canada, gender mainstreaming has been implemented by the private sector with varying degrees. While a few mining companies still implement a gender-blind policy, many have started employing gender-sensitive approaches in their policy-design and operation. They provide the same access for women and men, whether in terms of recruitment, promotion, and career development.

Gender-sensitive facilities and personal protective equipment are available in some companies so women are more comfortable working in the field. One company even went the extra mile in improving gender imbalance in employment through a diversity policy. They encourage more women’s participation and put in place measures for a more diverse working environment. This strategy is often seen as fundamental in conditions where gender gap is severe.

“Targeting a certain percentage of female representation without neglecting individual competence is imperative where gender inequality reaches an alarming degree,” stated Jalal, an expert in gender and community development.

Men have also been involved in efforts towards gender equality, such as participating in trainings on stopping subconscious bias and preventing sexual harassment at workplace  – trainings to educate both women and men in gender-related issues.

As part of efforts to educate male employees, a mining company introduced longer paternity leave to give the opportunity for their male employees to be able to provide emotional support for their wives during the maternity phase. The company’s CEO explained that gender equality needs to be supported by both female and male.

With more women entering the mining industry, companies start to realize the benefits of having more women in their workforce . The company enjoys more creative brainstorming processes, more effective negotiations, better records in safety behavior and in some cases, less maintenance costs of mining vehicles operated by women, to name a few.

Women themselves have successfully proven that they are as competent as their male peers in delivering the work. Furthermore, these women’s success stories inspire other young women to work in the industry.

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