Gendered Division of Labour and “Sympathy” in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Prestea-Huni Valley Municipality, Ghana


Arthur-Holmes, Francis. 2021. “Gendered Division of Labour and ‘Sympathy’ in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Prestea-Huni Valley Municipality, Ghana.” Journal of Rural Studies 81: 358–62. 

Author: Francis Arthur-Holmes


Understanding the gender relations and dynamics in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is crucial for formalization interventions and gender-sensitive on-site policies in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, there is very little research on how gender influences women’s economic opportunities and power relations at ASM sites in Ghana. Drawing from a qualitative research in the Prestea-Huni Valley Municipality, Ghana, this paper examines the local gender dynamics and division of labour in ASM. Findings show that while men were mainly engaged in the extraction – digging, shoveling and loading of women’s head pans with mineral ore – and processing work at the colluvial mining sites, women were basically working as labourers for the men. The women were directly involved in three main activities – provision of water on mineralised sand, transportation of gold ore and forewomen role – where they received lower remuneration for their labour. In relation to women’s access to “dig and wash” work and hard rock mining sites, there was an element of “gendered sympathy” which involved some power dimensions in ASM. In this paper, the empirical analysis of gendered division of labour in ASM provides the basis to understand the gendered organization of ASM and its management structure.

Keywords: artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), gender relations, gendered division of labour, gendered sympathy, women artisanal miners, Ghana, Sub-Saharan Africa

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Men, Women, Gendered Power Relations Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana

Year: 2021

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