Globally, the value-based, economic and development imperatives for gender equality and women s economic empowerment are well-established. Mining is a sector which has the potential to be a key driver of economic growth, development and job creation in many developing countries. Yet, while mining has been traditionally been male-dominated across the world a 2013 report by Women in Mining (UK) and PricewaterhouseCoopers stated that the mining industry has the lowest number of women on company boards of any industry group worldwide India actually had laws that placed several restrictions on women working in the sector. The Mines Act 1952 expressly forbade the employment of women in underground mines, and allowed them to work in above-ground mines only between 6 am and 7 pm.
Now, however, the labour ministry has amended the rules to allow women to work in underground mines during the day time and in opencast mines round the clock. Even so, the yoke of discriminatory labour laws is not fully lifted women in underground mining can only occupy technical, supervisory and managerial positions. While this may help mining engineers only in 2016 did IIT-Indian School of Mines Dhanbad, the premier mining engineering institute in the country, allow female students into the mining engineering problems it doesn t help the blue-collar women workers in mining regions. However, with a start being made, the likelihood of further change to allow women miners has gone up. As per the last round of the Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey (EUS), conducted by the Labour Bureau in the year FY16, the worker population ratio (WPR) for females aged 15 years and above was 21.7% as compared to the male WPR of 72.1%. Allowing women to work in the mining sector bodes well for curbing gender disparity and boosting equal opportunities for women.