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Theorising poverty and inequality in the case of rural women in Mungwi District in Zambia: a grounded theory approach.

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Poverty and inequality are undesirable, and nations strive to reduce them. The government of Zambia continues to try to alleviate poverty and inequality among rural women, but prospects of succeeding are still distant. This study was aimed at theorising poverty and inequality using a grounded theory approach in Mungwi District in Zambia. The following were the objectives of the study: To Investigate the perceptions of the rural women in Mungwi district regarding poverty and inequality; to examine the challenges faced by rural women due to poverty and inequality; to evaluate current interventions aimed at alleviating poverty and inequality among rural women; to develop a framework of interventions to reduce poverty and inequality in Zambia and to develop elements of theorises of poverty and inequality using a grounded theory approach. Three theoretical framework namely sustainable livelihoods approach, liberal feminist theory and Abraham Maslow’s human needs theory were used. The study adopted an interpretive paradigm and a qualitative case study research design. Also, a grounded theory methodology was used for data collection and analysis. Data was collected using semistructured interviews, focus groups interviews and observation. The sample comprised of 64 women aged between 20 years and 65 years from Mungwi District in Zambia. This study applied purposive sampling to reach the target group which provided the required information to address the research questions of the study. The key findings are that poverty and inequality are complex and are understood in many ways. The women of Mungwi District comprehend poverty not just as a lack of income and wealth, but also being unable to afford rudimentary commodities and resources coupled with the failure to sustain life. For them, poverty amounts to powerlessness, voicelessness, isolation, exclusion and a loss of confidence, inasmuch as it is a lack of education and healthcare. Similarly, Inequality for these rural women is experienced via unequal treatment, dissimilar opportunities, and differences in the delivery of resources. They also expressed inequality as oppression, discrepancies in development, and exclusion from community development. These findings do not just mirror rural women’s poverty and inequality but reveal unfathomable abasement of the rural women of Mungwi District. Consequently, the researcher recommends that social protection in form of a Social Cash Transfer, Pension Fund, and other social grants be allocated to all women who do not have reliable sources of income as in permanent jobs. Likewise, the government ought to consider employment opportunities for rural women and discourage negative cultural norms that stifle women’s upward mobility. The researcher’s contribution to body of knowledge in this study lies in the presentation of Intricate Poverty and Inequality Reduction Framework (IPIREF) and in the postulation of the social capacitation theory and approaches such as the Balance of Dominance Approach (BDA), the Co-holding Approach (CoHA), Devoted Rural Leadership Approach (DRLA) and Women Income Support Approach (WISA). The IPIREF is useful for stakeholders because it points to the needs of the rural women in Mungwi District, transforming structures that can assist, and the expected results after intervention.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.