Bolivia: Women fight superstition and machismo in mining cooperatives

Publication Date: 
June 23, 2011

LA PAZ, Jun 23, 2011 (IPS) - Hundreds of women belonging to mining cooperatives in Bolivia are striving for the right to mine seams of tin and silver in the country's western highlands, where an age old superstition maintains that the presence of women "scares away" the minerals.

In these freezing high-altitude mineral-rich but impoverished areas, native women have been assigned a secondary economic role for centuries. But now they are seeking to make headway in traditionally male domains, say researchers interviewed by IPS.

Growing international demand for metals and soaring prices for the tin, silver and gold that are abundant in Bolivia have encouraged thousands of mainly indigenous peasant farmers and people from outside the altiplano region to go down the mines, organised in cooperatives.