" We are struggling" Gender, poverty and the dynamics of survival within low-income households in Botswana

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy
Title " We are struggling" Gender, poverty and the dynamics of survival within low-income households in Botswana
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2000
URL https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/13171/1/NQ41250.pdf
The examination of the characteristics of poverty and life chances, focusing on the
gender of the head of the household, has been the subject of increasing academic research in
recent years in developing countries. The study of domestic units primarily
headedsupported by women in Botswana is of particular interest, given their exceptionally
high incidence. Census and household surveys reveal that almost half of all households in
Botswana are headed by women, and that a significant proportion of them fall in the lowest
income categories.
This study examines the causes and manifestations of poverty among female-headed
households in Botswana. At the macro-level, the analysis of secondary sources assessed the
manifestations of gender inequality and poverty within the context of economic and cultural
change. The empirical study was situated at the micro-level, investigating the implications
of household organisation and individual gender relations of economic production and social
reproduction on the life chances of women and their dependants. The study was conducted
within a pool of low-income female and male headed/supported households in a rural village
and the Capital City, comparing similarities and differences in their composition, sources of
income and survival strategies employed by women and men within them.
The discussions with women and men pointed to the complexity of domestic
organisation and the significance of gender hierarchies that are often obscured by focusing
on discrete notions of 'household' and 'headship', and economic measures of poverty.
The findings show that while poverty among households that are primarily supported
by women may be due to high age dependency ratios and the paucity of income earners, it is
also due to the contradictory implications of the social construction of gender, and relations
of extra-marital parenting in contemporary Botswana.

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