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An investigation on the coping strategies of rural women as they assume roles in households and communities: a case study of the Eastern Cape.

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The study investigated the coping strategies of rural women assuming roles in households and communities in the Eastern Cape. The study explored the nature of learning that takes place at Gabisile National Centre (GNC), a centre that is made up of a group of rural women who reside at Manzamnyama location in Mthatha. Motivation for the study was to understand the coping strategies learned by rural women learned in the context of GNC in finding solutions in their real lives, households, and communities. Different ways of learning adult learning which led to finding the coping strategies, which include the informal and non-formal ways of learning were scrutinized. Also, the research uncovered how rural women were participating with one another in the context of GNC. This research was underpinned by Community of Practice of Lave and Wengers’ theory asserting knowledge as promoted through disseminating knowledge within a group of people. The research used a qualitative approach. The case study design was used. Eight (8) participants were purposively sampled from the total population of twenty-eight (28), all rural women staying at Manzamnyama location, which is the walking distance to GNC. Data collection instruments were document analysis, observation, semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions. Data were analysed using ATLAS ti. The findings revealed four ways of learning that took place at GNC, namely: worship, physical exercises, craftwork, and monthly meetings. The rural women were actively participating, interacting, engaging, and sharing experiences with one another in the process of creating knowledge, skills, and coping strategies relevant to their households and communities. The rural women also learned from one another using informal and non-formal ways of acquiring knowledge and skills. The research confirmed that learning of rural women at GNC has provided the coping strategies that transformed the rural women’s lives, households and communities.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.