Religious challenges faced by Indian women in the workplace : a focus on the community of Howick in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.
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Religion was a pervasive influence throughout cultures and societies. Religion has provided ways for people to deal with the hardships associated with war and often promised a better life. It also served as a uniting or dividing force for populations in their resistance of unjust, corrupt or ineffective governments and provided an identity not only for a specific group but also for an individual. This research focused on the aspect of religious identity for Indian women in South Africa and how it plays itself in a working environment. Most women struggle for their rights in the working environment. Some of the other problems faced in the workplace include abuse, health issues and discrimination. Stereotyping is very common in the working environment and has proven how and to whom appointments and promotions are awarded. In South Africa, Indian women remain discriminated in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy. The focus of this research was specifically to investigate religious challenges faced by Indian women in the workplace with focus on the community of Howick in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The aim was to determine the kinds of religious challenges that are faced by Indian women in the workplace and why such challenges occur. The study adopted a mixed method research approach with a sample of 25 Indian women from three different religious backgrounds namely: Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. An open ended questionnaire was administered to all respondents. Data was analysed and interpreted using inferential statistics and thematic analysis. The statistical results show that 64% of women find religion to be an important aspect of their work whilst 20% have suffered abuse in the workplace as a result of their religion. Consequently about 28% of women experience stress related problems that are directly associated with their workplace challenges. The thematic analysis further reveals that abuse and stress continue to take place against women in the workplace on the grounds of their religion. This shows that religion remains an important determinant of workplace health and wellness. It is recommended that workplaces strengthen health and wellness mechanisms to end abuse that is experienced by Indian women on the grounds of religion in South Africa.