This dissertation examines how poor black South African women in rural areas organize themselves to address their poverty situations and meet their practical needs – those that pertain to their responsibilities as grandmothers, mothers, and community members – and assesses their organizations' effectiveness for meeting women's goals. My research is based on two groups that are members of the South African Rural Women's Movement. They are the Sisonke Women's Club Group (SSWCG) and the Siyabonga Women's Club Group (SBWCG). A majority of these women are illiterate and were de jure or de facto heads of households. Based on interviews and participant observation, I describe and analyze the strategies that these women employ in an attempt to alleviate poverty, better their lives, and assist in the survival of their families, each other, and the most vulnerable members of their community. Their strategies involve organizing in groups to support each other's income-generating activities and to help each other in times of emergency. Their activities include making floor mats, beading, sewing, baking, and providing caregiving for members who are sick and for orphans. I conclude that, although their organizing helps meet practical needs based on their traditional roles as women, it has not contributed to meeting strategic needs – to their empowerment as citizens or as heads of households.
|Advisor:||Rakowski, Cathy A.|
|Commitee:||Bystydzienski, Jill, Keating, Christine C.|
|School:||The Ohio State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Ohio|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African Studies, African American Studies, Black studies, African history, Womens studies, Political science, South African Studies, Gender studies|
|Keywords:||Empowerment, Government gender policy, Grassroots women, Rural survival strategies, South africa, Women's organizing|
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