Vulnerabilities and Inequalities Experienced by Women in the Climate Change Discourse in South Africa’s Rural Communities: Implications for Social Work


Nyahunda, Louis, Jabulani Calvin Makhubele, Vincent Mabvurira, and Frans Koketso Matlakala. 2020. “Vulnerabilities and Inequalities Experienced by Women in the Climate Change Discourse in South Africa’s Rural Communities: Implications for Social Work.” The British Journal of Social Work. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcaa118.

Authors: Louis Nyahunda, Jabulani Calvin Makhubele, Vincent Mabvurira, Frans Koketso Matlakala


Women’s vulnerability to climate-induced shocks hinges on a high dependence on climate-sensitive livelihoods and a natural resource base aggravated by the acute inequalities that they experience due to patriarchal dominance. This article’s purpose is to unpack the vulnerabilities and inequalities that rural women experience in the climate change terrain which necessitates the involvement of the social work profession. This study adopted a qualitative methodology guided by a multi-case study design. A sample of twenty-five participants, including community members and social workers, participated in the study. These participants were selected through simple purposive and convenient sampling techniques. Data were collected using focus group discussions and individual interviews. The thematic content analysis was followed to analyse the findings. The study established that rural women are impacted by various vulnerabilities and inequalities in the climate change discourse, which serve as barriers to their effective adaptation. The vulnerabilities and inequalities manifest through lack of land and property rights, discrimination from decision-making processes, poverty and lack of adequate knowledge about climate change mitigation and adaptation. Social work involvement to address these catastrophes is scant in the Vhembe district in Limpopo province, South Africa. The study recommends that all climate change interventions should put an end to inequalities women experience in order for them to be effective and social workers should be at the frontline of such initiative.

Keywords: climate change, Inequalities, rural women, social work, Vhembe district, vulnerabilities

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2020

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