Household dynamics and the bargaining power of women in artisanal and small-scale mining in sub-Saharan Africa: A Ghanaian case study


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


With the increasing participation of women in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) across many sub-Saharan African countries, the ASM sector offers women artisanal miners considerable income that gives them better opportunities at household decision-making. While the existing literature has widely studied intrahousehold dynamics in domains such as agriculture and health, very little is known about the bargaining power of women in ASM and their household dynamics. Through in-depth interviews with 49 women artisanal miners in Prestea-Bondaye mining area in the Prestea-Huni Valley Municipality of Ghana, this paper considers how women's engagement in ASM changes the dynamics within their households and impacts their bargaining power. Findings showed that most women artisanal miners were not in support of pooling income with their husbands with most of them using their income to alter the dynamics of household decision-making concerning food to cook for the family, children's education and family size. Extended family relations as a form of social norm were found to determine women artisanal miners' decision not to pool income with their husbands. The findings, therefore, problematise the unitary model of household decision-making and provide a nuanced analysis of rural household power dynamics in a mining context, which is grossly unexplored. However, various aspects of intrahousehold bargaining models – cooperative, non-cooperative and collective – were found under different circumstances depending on the household needs and artisanal women miners' relations with husbands and their extended family. Findings also showed that women's participation in ASM was changing household dynamics, particularly sexual interactions with their partners and childcare responsibilities. Although women's participation in ASM results in higher levels of bargaining power, the Minerals Commission of Ghana, gender advocacy institutions and other relevant stakeholders must engage in policy discussions to streamline women's activities and find possible ways of dealing with their challenges in the sector.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101884
JournalResources Policy
Early online date19 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

This research received field work fund and STAR Grant from Oxford Department of International Development (ODID) and St Antony's College, University of Oxford, UK, respectively. The sponsors, however, played no role in the study design, data collection and data analysis, manuscript preparation, and publication of this article. This research formed part of the first author's (FA-H) MPhil dissertation under the supervision of Professor Cheryl Doss at ODID. We, therefore, acknowledge Professor Cheryl Doss for offering excellent comments and invaluable insights, which have helped to improve this paper.

FA-H conceived and designed the study. FA-H collected and analyzed the data from the field. FA-H wrote the methodology, theoretical framework and drafted the results and the discussion section. FA-H and KAB contributed to the writing of the introduction of the manuscript. KAB reviewed the methodology, the theoretical framework/results and discussion sections. All the authors accepted final responsibility for the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


  • Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM)
  • Ghana
  • Household dynamics
  • Intrahousehold bargaining
  • Sexual relations
  • Women artisanal miners


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