Women, North-South migration and artisanal and small-scale mining in Ghana: Motivations, drivers and socio-economic implications


*Corresponding author for this work

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

24 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the internal migration dynamics involving women from the Northern part of Ghana to the South to engage in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) – low-tech mineral extraction and processing. The North-South migration of women to the South is underpinned by socio-cultural and economic reasons, which we found to fall under two broad factors: motivations and drivers. In this paper, the motivations are conceptualised as factors or reasons that propel Northern women to migrate to the South to take up employment in ASM whereas the drivers are defined as the factors that push Northern women away from their villages or towns to Southern Ghana for ASM-related activities. Under the motivations, women from the North moved to ASM communities in the South to obtain income for alternative livelihoods and economic diversity as well as their economic empowerment. Concerning the drivers, poverty, quest for social recognition and contribution to family needs, lack of productive employment opportunities, unattractive nature of agriculture and patriarchal socio-cultural norms explain why Northern women migrate to ASM communities in Southern Ghana. To put this into perspective, the Northern women are driven by certain economic and socio-cultural factors from their urban and rural abodes in the North into ASM spaces in the South. These ASM spaces also present their own gendered struggles for these Northern women who have to navigate the complex transcultural and socio-economic contexts they find themselves. The lives of these Northern women involve moving from one culturally and economically limiting environment, and surviving (or even flourishing) in yet another gendered, patriarchal, statutorily criminalised ASM environment. Therefore, we discuss how these Northern women navigate between these ‘two worlds’– their source regions in the North and their ASM destinations in the South – and the factors within ASM in Southern Ghana that make their survival and flourishing possible. The linkages between Northern women's migration and ASM formalisation are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101076
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Early online date18 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research. This work was supported by the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID) and St Antony's College, University of Oxford through departmental fieldwork award and STAR Grant award 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 was from first author's (FA-H) MPhil fieldwork in Ghana and thesis which was supervised by Professor Cheryl Doss at ODID.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Northern women
  • Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM)
  • North-south migration
  • Gendered struggles
  • Ghana


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