Collective organising of female head load portaging North-South migrants (Kayayei) in Ghana

Ransford Yartel Asibu and Mario Ceselka
Lindsay Whitfield
Start Date: 
February 15, 2017
End Date: 
April 15, 2017
Project Type: 
Master Thesis
Project Code: 
Total grant: 
DKK 30,000
Contact :

In the last three decades, Ghana has witnessed a substantial increase in the North-South female migration. In the hope of escaping chronic poverty, an abundant number of girls and women from impoverished rural areas in northern Ghana started to move South to commercial areas in major cities. Unfortunately, due to their prevailing low levels of education and lack of adequate working skills, many of them end up as head-load porters, known as Kayayei. Owing to extremely harsh working conditions, exploitation, and vulnerability of Kayayei occupation, they often suffer alarming socio-economic situation. Available research into the phenomenon reveals many realities about Kayayei everyday lives, however very little is known about how they tackle their poor socio-economic circumstances. World-renowned advocacy groups ILO (International Labour Organisation) and WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organising), who support female informal workers globally, bring attention to collective mobilization of informally-employed women as the most promising policy towards long-term improvement of their livelihoods. Therefore, the question arises: Do Kayayei collectively mobilize to voice their political and economic demands? And if they do so, what are the motivations and dynamics of such organising? Are Kayayei left alone in this effort or is there any form of help coming from outside of their immanent circles? And does collective mobilizing of Kayayei bring the long-desired improvements to their socio-economic circumstances?

This page was last modified on 14 July 2017

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