Factors Impeding the Participation of Rural Women in the Climate Change Discourse: A Requirement for Social Work Intervention
Keywords:participation, rural women, climate change, social work, Vhembe district
The disproportional impacts of climate change on rural women are undisputable. Climate change impacts that manifest through droughts, heat waves, floods, scarcity of water and depletion of the natural resource base are becoming more precarious in the lives and livelihoods of rural women. This study aims to delineate factors hampering the participation of rural women in the climate change discourse in the Vhembe District, Limpopo, South Africa. The study adopted the qualitative methodology guided by a multi-case study design. A sample of 24 participants was selected through multistage sampling techniques. Rural women and social workers participated in the study. The data were collected using focus group discussions and semi-structured individual interviews and were analysed thematically. The study established that rural women in the Vhembe District are not participating in climate change decision-making processes, especially when it comes to community level politics where climate change-related decisions are made. Furthermore, the pervasive patriarchal dominance in the district discriminates against women and prevents them from acquiring land and property rights as well as adequate information about climate change adaptation and mitigation. The low social status of women is reducing their efforts to participate in the climate change discourse despite their perennial vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. These challenges faced by rural women in the climate change discourse are a cause for concern for the social work profession which is premised on enhancing human well-being.
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