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Risk and resilience: Ghanaian (Akan) widows and property rights

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Title: Risk and resilience: Ghanaian (Akan) widows and property rights
Author(s): Korang-Okrah, Rose
Director of Research: Haight, Wendy L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Haight, Wendy L.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Zhan, Min; Summerfield, Gale; Ofori-Dankwa, Joseph
Department / Program: School of Social Work
Discipline: Social Work
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Widowhood widowhood rites social location property rites matrilineal lineage.
Abstract: This qualitative phenomenological study investigated Akan widows’ lived experiences of widowhood, widowhood rites, violations against their property rights and the protective resources they employ to survive. The dissertation also explored how the widows make meaning out of their experiences. Twenty widows were selected. They ranged in age from 30 to 81, rural/urban dwelling, education, monogamous/polygamous marriage, different widowhood experiences, Christian/Muslim and employed/unemployed status. Participants were drawn from 2 towns and 2 cities in 2 regions in Ghana. Through collaborative, communicative interviewing tools, the widows provided descriptions, perspectives and the meaning they make out of their lived experiences. Findings confirm that Akan widows’ vulnerability is directly connected with the social location of Akan women based on the gendered socialization and culturally asymmetrical roles in marriage; culturally gendered challenges they face during widowhood, lack of property and poverty; and the conflicting stipulations of the plural legal systems in Ghana. Factors identified as supportive resources for widows’ continuous survival include religiosity/spirituality, economic stability, social capital/networks and self-sufficiency. The findings also show that, all but 5 widows were struggling financially and personally. The implications of the findings in relation to policy and practice are discussed, as well as the strengths and limitations of the study.
Issue Date: 2012-02-01
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Rose Korang-Okrah
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-02-01
Date Deposited: 2011-12

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