Unearthing Her Crown

Community-based research identifying barriers to women’s economic participation in Ghana's artisanal and small scale gold mining sector

EMPOWER INDIGENOUS WOMEN

Support economic inclusion and sustainability in Ghana

CONTEXT

In 2019, Ghana surpassed South Africa, as the number one gold producer on the African continent. Foreign multi-national companies own the vast majority of Ghana’s gold wealth amounting to a disturbing ecological imperialism.  The foreign monopoly of Ghana's natural resources has collateral consequences of land appropriation, livelihood deprivation and environmental degradation.  Females in artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM) are desperate to share in the earth’s profits; they dig at the very bottom of the international supply chain. Constrained systemically and culturally, female miners experience gross disparity in the extractive sector resulting in economic stagnation. Driven by hand to mouth sustenance for their families, these women spend decades in the trenches of ruble and mud searching for gold dust.  Gender injustice and imbalance within the ASGM exacerbates the feminization of poverty and prevents women from meaningful economic participation and independence.

Female artisanal and small scale gold miners largely work within galamsey or illegal mining. Operating in the shadows, their individual stories and collective narrative are unknown and undervalued.  Furthermore, there is a paucity of data chronicling the specific impacts and barriers experienced by female ASGM workers in direct relation to labour market exclusion and economic disempowerment.

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MISSION

Unearthing Her Crown will give voice to the harsh and gendered reality of women surviving on the dust of Ghana’s multi-billion dollar extractive industry through the following actions:

  • Collect and analyze empirical data for a baseline study revealing women’s unique challenges within the extractive sector.

  • Present a stunning visual narrative illustrative of the human and social toll of females in ASGM.

  • Identify gaps in the regulatory system for short and long-term legal and social recommendations that reach from marginalized catchment communities to supply chain accountability.

  • Foster the holistic inclusion of women in ASGM, contributing to the redistribution of social and financial wealth in remote communities of Amansie West, Obuasi, Kenyasi, and Bolgatanga.

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METHODOLOGY

Research will take an interdisciplinary quantitative and qualitative approach to ensure constructivist observations are supported by statistical analysis. The identified areas of Amansie West, Obuasi, Kenyasi, and Bolgatanga are categorically different. Each area’s dynamic geography and geology dictates its mining practices.  Workshops will be held in each area to engage women individually and collectively through surveys and round table discussions. Workshops will be grounded in the revaluation of women in their community and family systems, and how these relationships collaterally influence the prosperity of the community as a whole. Notably, the workshops will embolden women with rights-based agency and voice.  An estimated sample of 80 surveys will be completed by women in the gold mining supply chain. Numerical data will offer descriptive and situational impacts, while suggesting a baseline for comparative international analysis. Interviews with stakeholders and key informants including traditional authorities, mining company executives, community advocates, Ministry members, legal officers, and allied NGO’s will offer social and historical nexus. Field walks and direct observations will supplement evidence. To deduce a cause and effect, a legal analysis of current legislation and governance will be conducted, including mineral and mining laws, foreign and indigenous ownership requirement restrictions, forestation and waterways, labour laws, and Ghanaian constitutional rights.

Women from each mining community will be chosen for a day in the life documentary narrative through still photography.  Using subject-forward and graphic composition techniques, the women will be shot at work, in their homes, and with their families.  A series of staged portraits will root each narrative, humanizing the individual.

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