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Title: From vulnerability to empowerment: faith -based aid organizations, secular aid organizations and the wellbeing of rural widows in Abia state Nigeria
Authors: Nwokoro, Chioma Vivienne
Supervisors: Misztal, Barbara
Monforte, Pierre
Award date: 1-Apr-2016
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: The study examines the consequences of widows’ usage of the services of Faith-Based (FBOs) and Secular aid organizations (SBOs) to empower themselves in rural communities in Abia state Nigeria. To achieve this, the study adopted ideas proposed in three human development theories, the Relational Autonomy, Capability and the Cultural and Institutional approaches to advance a more general framework that analyses the various levels (micro, meso and macro) rural widows in Nigeria could be empowered. To explore these various levels of the widows’ empowerment, the thesis focused on three research questions; the first of which asks about the widows’ perceptions of their vulnerabilities in the rural communities and how their vulnerability translate to choices they make to transform their lives; the second enquires about the extent to which the aid organizations made attempt to address the needs of the widows in their service delivery; and the final question focuses on other ways the widows empowered themselves in the rural communities, especially when the services of the aid organizations were not forthcoming, thereby depicting their agency in the empowerment. The study used the constructivist ethnography and comparative approach as the paradigms of enquiry and relied mainly on observations and interviews (semi-structured interviews) for data collection. The field work was carried out over a period of 7 months in four aid organizations (i.e. 2 Faith Based and 2 secular aid organizations) and 12 communities in Abia state Nigeria where the aid organizations operate. The sample population was the widow beneficiaries and staff of the aid organizations. The research revealed that although the aid organizations were the major providers of services to the widows, the widows empowered themselves by various means, which include their individual and collective capacities, and by utilizing supports from indigenous groups and social networks to enhance their wellbeing in their communities. The study revealed that the assessment of rural widows’ empowerment, especially in traditional societies like Nigeria, should address all levels at which these women could operate as agents to enhance their wellbeing. The outcome from the different levels of analysis showed that the grassroots support groups were relevant in the widows’ empowerment in the rural communities, especially as they provided immediate supports and cultural repertoires these women could tap to improve their lives. The study highlights the relevance of these cultural groups in addressing the widows’ exertion of their agency in grassroots level. The study goes on to suggest that a better empowerment practice for improving lives of rural widows in Nigeria should focus on the perspectives of the widows as beneficiaries instead of organizational objectives. This will provide spec for identifying their aspirations, specific needs, and the social actors who are relevant in their empowerment in grassroots. The study also offered policy recommendations for advancing more empowerment of widows in rural areas in Nigeria.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, Dept. of Sociology
Leicester Theses

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