Socio-Economic Challenges Experienced by Widows and Support Provided by Social Workers in Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality in Eastern Cape, South Africa
Keywords:socio-economic status, experiences, widows, support, widowhood, social workers
Widowed women, or widows, across the globe share common experiences which relate to social and economic challenges. For example, in some parts of Africa, widowhood comes as an elevated experience of deprivation, subjugation and humiliation. Widows are not only viewed with suspicion, but are also regarded as an economic burden on their relatives, especially if they are not working. This article reports on a study that aimed to investigate the impact of socio-economic support provided by social workers to widows in mitigating social and economic challenges. A qualitative approach was adopted for the study. The study sample comprised 20 widows and 15 social workers. The findings revealed that widows experience various socio-economic challenges. The study also found that while social workers provide services that are necessary for all South Africans, they do not offer any specific services directed to widows. In conclusion, the situation in which widows find themselves calls for more holistic interventions from social workers as they respond to the challenges that affect widows’ well-being and functioning.
Akinlabi, F. B. 2013. “Coping Mechanism/Resources of Young and Old Widows in South West Nigeria.” Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 4 (2): 93–97. https://doi.org/10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n2p193 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n2p193
Axelrad, H., M. Malul, and I. Luski. 2018. “Unemployment among Younger and Older Individuals: Does Conventional Data about Unemployment Tell Us the Whole Story?” Journal of Labour Market Research 52 (1): a3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12651-018-0237-9 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12651-018-0237-9
Behera, S., and A. K. Bhardwaj. 2015. “An Empirical Study on the Effect of Widowhood on Personality.” Online Journal of Multidisciplinary Research 1 (1): 6–11. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&type=pdf&doi=fbc6b25489afa00cc2efff90de2efdc51f16d443
Braun, V., and V. Clarke. 2006. “Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology.” Qualitative Research in Psychology 3 (2): 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa DOI: https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
Centre for Human Rights. 2018. “A Report on Child Marriage in Africa.” Accessed November 16, 2021. https://www.chr.up.ac.za/images/researchunits/wru/news/files/2018_child_marriage_report_en.pdf
Chukwu-Okoronkwo, S. O. 2015. “Culture of Widowhood Practices in Africa: Deinstitutionalizing the Plights of Women and Communicating Development through Theatre.” American Journal of Social Science Research 1 (2): 71–76. https://www.academia.edu/12095946/Culture_of_Widowhood_Practices_in_Africa_Deinstitutionalizing_the_Plights_of_Women_and_Communicating_Development_through_Theatre
Dabergott, F. 2021. “The Gendered Widowhood Effect and Social Mortality Gap.” Population Studies: A Journal of Demography 76 (2): 295–307. https://doi.org/10.1080/00324728.2021.1892809 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00324728.2021.1892809
De Leo, D., J. Zammarrelli, A. V. Giannotti, S. Donna, S. Bertini, A. Santini, and C. Anile. 2020. “Notification of Unexpected, Violent and Traumatic Death: A Systematic Review.” Frontiers in Psychology 11: 2229. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02229 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02229
DiGiacomo, M., J. Lewis, J., Phillips, M. Nolan, and P. M. Davidson. 2015. “The Business of Death: A Qualitative Study of Financial Concerns of Widowed Older Women.” BMC Women’s Health 15 (36): 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-015-0194-1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-015-0194-1
Djuikom, M. A., and D. van de Walle. 2018. “Marital Shocks and Women’s Welfare in Africa.” Policy Research Working Paper 8306. World Bank Group. Accessed August 15, 2022. https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/1542115162 15200599/pdf/WPS8306.pdf
Dube, M. 2016. “The Psycho-Social Plight of Widows in Binga District in Zimbabwe: The Efficacy of Social Work Intervention.” PhD diss., North-West University, Mafikeng.
Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council. 2017. “Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality Socio-Economic Review and Outlook.” Accessed May 18, 2021. https://www.ecsecc.org/documentrepository/informationcentre/raymond-local-municipality_12336.pdf
Fourie, K. 2016. “A Critical Review of the Response of the Environmental Literacy Skills Programme to Learner Capabilities, and to the Demands of the Working for Water Training Setting in an Emerging Green Economy.” Master’s diss., Rhodes University, Grahamstown.
Ghori, S. 2017. “Nearly 50% of Widows Live in Poverty: We Can Change That.” Women for Women International. Accessed November 23, 2021. https://www.womenforwomen.org/blogs/nearly-50-widows-live-poverty-we-can-change
Hancox, D., K. Feldman, Z. Gwala, and D. du Preez. 2015. Integral Mission and Shalom: Shalom for Widows – An Exploratory Study from South Africa. Lima: Micah Global Consultation.
Human Rights Watch. 2015. “Ending Child Marriage in Africa: Opening the Door for Girls’ Education, Health, and Freedom from Violence.” Accessed May 23, 2021. https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/09/ending-child-marriage-africa
ILO (International Labour Organization). 2011. “Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 Update.” Accessed October 4, 2022. https://www.ilo.org/empelm/pubs/WCMS_165455/lang--en/index.htm
ILO (International Labour Organization). 2022. “The Gender Gap in Employment: What’s Holding Women Back?” Accessed October 4, 2022. https://www.ilo.org/infostories/en-GB/Stories/Employment/barriers-women#intro
Kam, P. K. 2021. “Strengthening the Empowerment Approach in Social Work Practice: An EPS Model.” Journal of Social Work 21 (3): 329–352. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468017320911348 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468017320911348
Kim, Y., and C. Kim. 2016. “Will the Pain of Losing the Husband Last Forever? The Effect of Transition to Widowhood on Mental Health.” Development and Society 45 (1): 165–187. https://doi.org/10.21588/dns/2016.45.1.007 DOI: https://doi.org/10.21588/dns.2016.45.1.007
Kirchherr, J., and K. Charles. 2018. “Enhancing the Sample Diversity of Snowball Samples: Recommendations from a Research Project on Anti-Dam Movements in Southeast Asia.” PLoS ONE 13 (8): e0201710. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0201710 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0201710
Klot, J., and V. K. Nguyen. 2011. “The Fourth Wave: Violence, Gender, Culture and HIV in the 21st Century.” https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000211811
Korang-Okrah, R., W. Haight, P. Gibson, and J. Black. 2019. “Solutions to Property Rights ‘Violations’ Experienced by Ghanaian (Akan) Widows and Their Children: The Role of International Social Workers in Addressing Human Rights.” International Social Work 62 (1): 405–418. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872817731141 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872817731141
Kotzé, E., L. Lishje, and N. Rajuili-Masilo. 2012. “‘Women Mourn and Men Carry On’: African Women Storying Mourning Practices – A South African Example.” Death Studies 36 (8): 742–766. https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2011.604463 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2011.604463
Lebni, J. Y., M. A. M. Gharehghani, G. Soofizad, B. Khosravi, A. Ziapour, and S. F. Irandoost. 2020. “Challenges and Opportunities Confronting Female-Headed Households in Iran: A Qualitative Study.” BMC Women’s Health 20 (183): 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-020-01046-x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-020-01046-x
Lloyd-Sherlock, P., B. Corso, and N. Minicuci. 2015. “Widowhood, Socio-Economic Status, Health and Well-Being in Low and Middle-Income Countries.” Journal of Developmental Studies 51 (10): 1374–1388. htttps://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2015.1066497 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2015.1066497
Loomba Foundation. 2015. “World Widows Report – A Critical Issue for the Sustainable Development Goals.” Accessed February 3, 2021. https://www.theloombafoundation.org/sites/default/files/2019-06/WWR.pdf
Manala, M. 2015. “African Traditional Widowhood Rites and Their Benefits and/or Detrimental Effects on Widows in a Context of African Christianity.” AOSIS Open Journals 1–9. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i3.2913 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i3.2913
Mashiri, L. 2013. “Conceptualisation of Gender Based Violence in Zimbabwe.” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 3 (15): 94–103. https://www.ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_3_No_15_August_2013/12.pdf
Morrow, V. 2009. “The Ethics of Social Research with Children and Families in Young Lives: Practical Experiences.” Working paper No. 53. Accessed April 12, 2022. http://www.younglives.org.uk
Mwandayi, C., and S. Chirongoma. 2020. “‘Suspected killer’: Tamar’s Plight (Gn 38) as a Lens for Illuminating Women’s Vulnerability in the Legal Codes of Shona and Israelite Societies.” HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 76 (3): a5893. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i3.5893 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i3.5893
Ndabarushimana, A., and F. Dushime. 2018. “Improving Living Conditions of Widows: The Role of Sister Connection Organization in Burundi.” European Scientific Journal 14 (29): 281–300. https://doi.org/10.19044/esj.2018.v14n29p281 DOI: https://doi.org/10.19044/esj.2018.v14n29p281
Ngwakwe, C. C., and B. A. Iqbal. 2021. “Social Financial Grant and Poverty Alleviation in South Africa.” Œconomica Journal 17 (2): 202–215. https://dj.univdanubius.ro/index.php/AUDOE/article/view/760/1282
Nnodim, A. U., N. Ike, and O. O. Ekumankama. 2013. “The Effectiveness of Widow Support Systems in the Rural Areas of Rivers State, Nigeria.” Studies of Tribes and Tribals 11 (1): 49–53. https://doi.org/10.1080/0972639X.2013.11886665 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0972639X.2013.11886665
Palinkas, L. A., S. M. Horwitz, C. A. Green, J. P. Wisdom, N. Duan, and K. Hoagwood. 2015. “Purposeful Sampling for Qualitative Data Collection and Analysis in Mixed Methods Implementation Research.” Policy Mental Health 42 (5): 533–544. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-013-0528-y DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-013-0528-y
Powers, S. M., T. L. Bisconti, and C. S. Bergeman. 2014. “Trajectories of Social Support and Well-Being across the First Two Years of Widowhood.” Death Studies 38 (8): 499–509. https//doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2013.846436 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2013.846436
Rahman, S. 2016. “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches and Methods in Language ‘Testing and Assessment’ Research: A Literature Review.” Journal of Education and Learning 6 (1): 102–112. https://doi.org/10.5539/jel.v6n1p102 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/jel.v6n1p102
Richardson, S., L. Lester, and G. Zhang. 2012. “Are Casual and Contract Terms of Employment Hazardous for Mental Health in Australia?” Journal of Industrial Relations 54 (5): 557–578. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022185612454974 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022185612454974
RMLM (Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality). 2017. “Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality Integrated Development Plan 2017–2022.” Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.raymondmhlaba.gov.za/system/content/documents/reports/2021/idp_sdbip%20/RMLM.Process.Plan_.2017-2022.pdf
RSA (Republic of South Africa). 1997. “White Paper for Social Welfare.” https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201409/whitepaperonsocialwelfare0.pdf
RSA (Republic of South Africa). 2013. “Framework for Social Welfare Services.” https://www.dsd.gov.za/index.php/documents/category/20-frameworks
Saleebey, D. 2009. The Strengths Perspective in Social Work Practice. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.
Segal, E. A., K. E. Gerdes, and S. Steiner. 2019. An Introduction to the Profession of Social Work: Becoming a Change Agent. Melbourne: Cengage.
Statista. 2021. “Gender Distribution of the South African Population in 2021, by Marital Status.” Accessed August 30, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1114298/distribution-of-population-in-south-africa-by-marital-status/
Stepney, P. 2019. “Empowerment Ideas in Social Work.” In The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory, edited by M. Payne and E. Reith-Hall, 331–339. Oxford: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315211053-29 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315211053-29
Sulumba-Kapuma, G. A. 2018. “Widowhood within the Malawian Context: A Pastoral Care Model.” PhD diss., University of Pretoria.
Sykes, G., and M. Jooste. 2014. Leveraging Public Programmes with Socio-Economic and Development Objectives to Support Conservation and Restoration of Ecosystems: Lessons Learned from South Africa. Pretoria: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Tembo, A. 2012. “Revisiting Women’s Health Strategies: Lessons Learnt from Khulumani Support Group Widows’ Project.” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity 26 (2): 142–144. https://www.jstor.org/stable/i23287222 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10130950.2012.700232
Tshishonga, N., and N. S. Matsiliza. 2021. “Addressing the Twin Challenges of Poverty and Unemployment through Community Work Programmes in South Africa.” African Journal of Development Studies 11 (2): 217–235. https://doi.org/10.31920/2634-3649/2021/v11n2a12
UN (United Nations) Women. 2012. “Commission on the Status of Women 2012.” Accessed August 30, 2022. https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/commission-on-the-status-of-women-2012
UN (United Nations) Women. 2014. “World Survey on the Role of Women in Development 2014: Gender Equality and Sustainable Development.” Accessed August 30, 2022. https://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/Headquarters/Attachments/Sections/Library/Publications/2014/World-survey-on-the-role-of-women-in-development-2014-en.pdf
World Bank. 2018. “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018.” Accessed 30 August, 2022. https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/poverty-and-shared-prosperity-2018
Zaroba, M. 2012. “The Socio-Economic Challenges Faced by Widows in Urban Zimbabwe: A Study of Ward 34 in Mufakose High Density Suburb in Harare.” Master’s diss., University of Zimbabwe, Harare.
Zikhali, T. P. 2021. “Social Grants and Poverty Alleviation in South Africa: Addressing Dependency Attitude and Behaviour.” Gender and Behaviour Journal 19 (2): 1–15. https://hdl.handle.net/10520/ejc-genbeh_v19_n2_a14
How to Cite