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Transformining Customary System in Ghana: Women's Participation in Small-Scale Gold Mining Activities in the Talensi District

dc.contributor.authorKoomson, Elizabeth
dc.description.abstractThe overall goal of my interdisciplinary dissertation research in social work and anthropology is to explore how the socio-economic roles of women involved in the Talensi small-scale gold mining activities in Ghana produce opportunities and challenges for them. In the context of women’s work in the Talensi small-scale gold mining industry in Ghana, I investigate: 1) the intersection between women’s expected socio-economic roles in the mining activities and the Talensi social organization; 2) women’s rights to the mining resources (income, land, mining pits, and houses); and 3) women’s response to the challenges of gender roles and rights to mining resources. This research examines the intersection of women’s participation in the Talensi small-scale gold mining industry in Ghana, and the benefits and challenges of the mining activities. It is based on 12 months of fieldwork in the Talensi small-scale gold mining communities between 2014 and 2015. I used ethnographic methods of semi-structured interviews with female and male workers and other community members and leaders; participants’ observation of the organization of gold production activities; focus group discussions; and archival materials, to collect and analyze the data. I have focused my research and scholarship on exploring the everyday practices of women involved in the male-dominated small-scale gold mining activities. This research provides a micro-level view of Talensi women’s everyday experiences in the small-scale gold mining industry. I provide a theoretical framework for rethinking how the informal space of the small-scale gold mining industry offers opportunities for womenand, at the same time, undergirds the negotiations women make between the idealized gender relationships within the larger social organization and everyday practices. Overall findings from this research indicate that women are becoming key players in the gold mining industry. Still, gender roles that women experience in Talensi households shape gender roles in the mining industry. Limitations placed on women’s roles in the mining industry constrain them from enjoying the full benefits of that industry, relative to men, such as women’s inability to access and own mining pits and engage in tasks that yield high economic rewards. However, women in the mining industry are resisting unfair treatment relating to their gender, such as organizing collective activities that favor their interests, forming social networks for welfare and savings through rotating credit and savings schemes, or simply “stealing” gold rocks to add to their wages. These findings suggest three recommendations: 1) policy interventions promoting gender-specific resources to support women in the work organization; 2) analysis, evaluation, and intervention for the organization of small-scale informal economies; and 3) policy and intervention for women’s economies that recognize and incorporate programs with transformational capacity to redefine the normative practices that shape women’s lives.
dc.subjectWomen's participation in an informal small-scale gold mining industry.
dc.subjectWomen's work in a male-dominated economy
dc.subjectRelationship between women's access and rights to resources
dc.subjectSmall-scale mining activities in Ghana and Women's Roles
dc.titleTransformining Customary System in Ghana: Women's Participation in Small-Scale Gold Mining Activities in the Talensi District
dc.description.thesisdegreedisciplineSocial Work & Anthropology
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantorUniversity of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
dc.contributor.committeememberChadiha, Letha
dc.contributor.committeememberKirsch, Stuart
dc.contributor.committeememberLewis, Edith A
dc.contributor.committeememberRenne, Elisha P
dc.contributor.committeememberShanks, Trina R
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevelSocial Work
dc.subject.hlbtoplevelSocial Sciences
dc.identifier.orcid0000-0002-6354-3606, Elizabeth; 0000-0002-6354-3606en_US
dc.owningcollnameDissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)

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