The Feminisation of Vulnerability to Poverty in Rural Communities

: An Examination of Koraro Village Ethiopia

  • Michelle de Jongh

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This research examines how gendered entitlements and obligations in the household, alongside socio-cultural practices, contribute to the vulnerability of women to poverty. In particular, this research focuses on the experiences of female-headed households in the context of an ecologically fragile rural community. Located at the intersection of feminist and poverty and development theory, this inter-disciplinary study offers new insight into the feminisation of poverty thesis; a topic that remains underexplored in the context of rural communities. The vulnerability of women to poverty is interrogated through a multi-dimensional asset accumulation framework, comprising an amalgam of gender, assets, vulnerability and empowerment. This framework facilitates the examination of both the structural and socio-cultural realities of the livelihood strategies of female-headed households, in ecologically fragile communities. Koraro village, Ethiopia was chosen for this study as it represents a small village routinely exposed to adverse environmental conditions, set in a wider context of a struggling sub-Saharan economy. The methodological approach is qualitative, involving an ethnographic study of women’s life in Koraro village including, in-depth contextual interviews, observations, and photographs of daily household activities. Consistent with a qualitative approach the data was grouped and analysed thematically.

Findings show that the livelihood strategies of female-headed households are shaped by their capabilities to accumulate and mobilise sufficient appropriate assets. Evidence suggests that female-headed households are continuously renegotiating with institutionalised male authority for access to essential assets as well as their social participation within the wider community. In these socio-cultural relationships, the entitlements of women are subordinated to the socio-cultural entitlements of men. Further, the gender division of trade place women in transient market spaces, forcing the engagement of women in the informal economy. The analysis reveals women using dynamic livelihood strategies, especially interdependent relationships between female-headed households in order to garner assets and social status. Still, female-headed households seem to be more vulnerable to nutrition and health deprivation and poor social well-being. The research contributes to the gender and development discourse, offering a new and hitherto unexamined perspective to the feminisation poverty thesis, focussing on the social processes that engender vulnerability of women in ecologically fragile rural communities.
Date of Award23 Apr 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorMartina Hutton (Supervisor), Lez Rayman-Bacchus (Supervisor) & Alan Murray (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • poverty
  • gender
  • female-headed households
  • livelihood strategies
  • Ethiopia
  • rural communities

Cite this

The Feminisation of Vulnerability to Poverty in Rural Communities: An Examination of Koraro Village Ethiopia
de Jongh, M. (Author). 23 Apr 2019

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis