Ghana’s total value of gold export in 2019 was around $27 million every day, while the majority of women working in artisanal small-scale gold mining live on just $2 per day, child labour here is mostly free. Small-scale and illegal gold mining plays a significant role in Ghana, contributing around two-thirds of the country’s output with about 3 million people forced to live off mining due to poverty and lack of work. Our research shows that around 30% of ASGM workers are women.
Limited by systemic and cultural constraints, female miners experience gross disparity in the extractive sector resulting in tragic economic malaise. 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, independence, and self-empowerment. 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.
Ghana is the number one gold producer on the African continent. Foreign multinational companies own the vast majority of Ghana’s gold wealth amounting to a disturbing ecological imperialism. According to The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in Ghana only in 2019 around $9 billion worth of gold exports remained unaccounted, being smuggled to the major importer nations like India, United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. The foreign monopoly of natural resources and its collateral consequences of land appropriation, livelihood deprivation and environmental degradation, marginalizes ASGM who are desperate to share in the earth’s profits.