Gender and artisanal and small-scale mining: Exploring women's livelihood and occupational roles in formalised settings

Abstract

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) has often been touted as an employment-creation avenue for millions of operators worldwide, including women. This employment-generation narrative has, however, been occasioned by the immense scholarly focus on the informal and labour-intensive segments of ASM operations. Exploring the livelihood and occupational roles of women in formalised ASM settings, data for our inquiry comes mainly from employees of two formalised ASM firms in Ghana. Our study suggests that contrary to the dominant narrative, women's employment avenues remain minimal in formalised settings through capital-labour substitution mechanisms. Our findings further indicate that women play differentiated, high positional roles in formalised settings, contrary to their lower-to-middle-rung roles in ASM labour structures in informal settings. In addition, occupational health and safety mechanisms differ from those at informal ASM sites. Disaggregation of employment figures in relation to female workers in ASM would help to tailor specific policies that encapsulate the duality of operations and attract more women into formalised settings where employment conditions are better

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