Mujeres seleccionadoras de Cauca Colombia

Women's Voices: Female Empowerment for a Mercury-free Colombia

New photo story highlights contributions & challenges of women mineral selectors

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In the Cauca region of southwestern Colombia, groups of women sort through heaps of rocks discarded by local mining operations in search of pieces of ore containing small amounts of gold for them to extract. The women wash the rocks, weigh them in their hands, look at them — some even smell them. They use a tool similar to a hoe to separate the material, then they take a hammer and hit the rock until it becomes the desired shape, weight, and color.

They pile the ore in buckets, transport them to a processing center and process the material in ball mills to obtain a few grams of the precious gold that sustains these subsistence miners' lives.

In a new photo story reflecting on women's empowerment workshops held in Cauca in early 2020, prior to Covid-19 restrictions, the planetGOLD Colombia project provides a glimpse of the work these female mineral selectors do through the eyes of Sénides, one of the women mineral selectors.

The story touches on the gender gaps these women must contend with, the importance of reducing mercury exposure for women in this line of work, and actions the planetGOLD Colombia project plans to take aimed at overcoming environmental, human health, and gender equality challenges facing the women.

Click below to view the full story in English or Spanish.

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