Understanding the experiences of young widows in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
The collapse of apartheid in South Africa meant the end of gender discrimination and power imbalances against women as a minority population. Currently, South Africa is undergoing a process of fundamental transformation aimed at empowering women in our societies. Hence, these transformations stand at the doorstep of an exciting and creative era in which it can make a powerful impact on reconstruction and development in our new democracy. As a result, the South Africa`s new dawn has certainly brought about democracy in South Africa in 1994. Does this mean the cultural, social, economic and political experiences of widows have since changed the expectations of women’s roles in our societies? Nonetheless, Literature then plays a vital role in this journey as it emulates and interprets the young widow’s experiences from their view point. This study, therefore, attempts to examine how young widow’s images are depicted in our societies. Furthermore, to investigate whether there is a shift in the way women (young widows in particular) characters are portrayed to represent the current socio-cultural and political reality. It will also draw attention on the plights’ faced by young widows, which outlines the dynamics of their encounters and which explains the origin of existing divisions in terms of gender discrimination. Qualitative research design was adopted in terms gathering data by interviewing young widows in the study area. Purposive sampling techniques were used and sampled population of 16 participants were reached. The opinion of respondents informed the basis of the discussions and analysis which were organised in themes. As a result, analysis revealed that within patriarchal society, young widows appear inadequately prepared for their widowhood. Methodology of data collection and analysis used in this study enabled the researcher to validate information derived from different sources. The study employs feminist theory as a literary canon which critically analyse how these young women characters have been portrayed in various genres. Hence, utilizing feminism theory allowed the researcher to investigate whether the perceived oppression of young widows is reflected in current literature. Based on the outcome of the study, recommendations were made on human rights practitioners, Social workers and traditional leaders. Recommendations for further research are also detailed in the study.
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