Gendered ‘Choices’ in Sierra Leone: Women in Artisanal Mining in Tonkolili District


Ibrahim, Aisha Fofana, Blair Rutherford, and Doris Buss. 2020. “Gendered ‘Choices’ in Sierra Leone: Women in Artisanal Mining in Tonkolili District.” Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne Des Études Africaines 54 (1): 157–76. 

Authors: Aisha Fofana Ibrahim, Blair Rutherford, Doris Buss


This paper examines women’s “choices” in artisanal gold mining in Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone. It argues that women’s status in Sierra Leone and their socio-economic conditions contribute to the particular economic practices within artisanal gold mining in which they are able to participate. Showing how state interventions are enmeshed in the pre-existing social relations, dependency ties and governance relations in gold mining sites, it examines how gendered norms and practices, combined with governance issues pertaining to the effectiveness of policy in advancing equality, contribute to keeping women in gendered roles and limit their empowerment and full participation in the sector. These norms and relationships largely work against women, keeping them on the margins of the artisanal gold mines even while this economic activity may provide women (and their households) with muchneeded financial resources.

Cet article examine les « choix » des femmes en matière d’extraction artisanale de l’or dans le district de Tonkolili, en Sierra Leone. Il soutient que le statut et les conditions socioéconomiques des femmes en Sierra Leone contribuent aux pratiques économiques particulières du secteur de l’extraction artisanale de l’or auxquelles elles sont capables de participer. En montrant comment les interventions de l’État sont imbriquées dans les rapports sociaux préexistants, les liens de dépendance et les relations de gouvernance dans les sites aurifères, l’article examine comment les normes et les pratiques genrées, associées aux problèmes de gouvernance relatifs à l’efficacité des politiques de promotion de l’égalité entre les genres, contribuent à maintenir les femmes dans des rôles genrés et à limiter leur habilitation et leur pleine participation au secteur. Ces normes et ces relations jouent en défaveur des femmes, en les maintenant à la marge des mines d’or artisanales, alors que cette activité économique peut offrir aux femmes (et à leurs familles) des ressources financières très nécessaires.

Keywords: Sierra Leone, gender, artisanal mining, governance, genre, exploitation minière artisanale, gouvernance

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2020

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