Women In The Mines Of All Kinds

This series derives from documentation on the conditions of women workers in the largest mining enterprises in Minas Gerais. Mines are usually seen as masculine work environments and in the collective memory mines are places where women have no roles. But since early exploitation of gold in Minas Gerais, women have had only peripheral participation, they acted in washing and selecting stones and in other functions that reproduced domestic work. Little is known about the contemporary reality of this field. Women are responsible for the largest machines of the industry and they are preferred to exercise functions in many fronts.

While having permission to photograph and film the women workers in some companies, landscape, machines and actions in the field were also registered. Mines are usally kept closed to the public eye in the name of “industrial secret”. Difficulties and tensions which women live in the field were observed, but the series reveals examples of good-practice, workers who are proud of their jobs and their roles. Although, this scenario does not represent the reality of all mines in Brazil, as the industry is made especially by small enterprises that disrespect most basic regulations.

This project is a response to a regulation from 1932 by the International Labor Office and signed by the Brazilian government, restricting employment of women in underground mines. Never re-elaborated, it does not correspond to achievements in the field of health and safety, which benefit workers independent of gender. The series was made for donation to the photo archive of the International Labour Office in Geneva, comissioned for the exhibition The Revenge of the Photographic Archive, at the Centre de la Photographie Genève.

(...) The Brazilian Government therefore cannot but be in favour of the adoption of international regulations establishing the principle that this prohibition should be enforced by all countries. (Decree No. 21417 of 17 May 1932 to regulate the conditions of employment of women in industrial undertakings (L.S., 1932, Braz. 5): section 5: “Women shall not be employed in the following work: (a) work in tunnels, underground in mines, in quarries...“

[2010] Photographs/ laser prints [sizes variable]; written essay “In and out of the house: working and wandering”, Mabe Bethônico. 5 pages, illustrated. German/ English, distributed as handout; video Mineral Exploitation, 19:34.

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