HomeActive Citizens /  Abstract: Revisiting women’s health strategies: Lessons learnt from Khulumani Support Group Widows’ Project
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 13:51

Abstract: Revisiting women’s health strategies: Lessons learnt from Khulumani Support Group Widows’ Project

Written by  Ms Angela Tembo, Khulumani PAIA Officer
Abstract: Revisiting women’s health strategies: Lessons learnt from Khulumani Support Group Widows’ Project www.khulumani.net

In 2011, Khulumani took forward in a more systematic way a series of community dialogues with Khulumani members who are widows. The dialogues revealed that widowed women in South Africa are a very socially marginalised group of women who are subjected to a range of rituals and cultural practices connected to mourning, remarriage, inheritance and their status in the household and society.

In each community where these dialogues on gender discrimination against widows were held, participants shared how their lives and circumstances were deeply impacted by local interpretations of tradition and cultural practices  with very limited recourse to justice because Traditional Leaders and Traditional Courts enforced customs.

Heidi Swart in her article published in the Mail & Guardian on 24 February 2012, ‘Harsh customs: Chiefs punish with pecuniary powers’, highlighted that traditional leaders demand payments from widows to perform the customary rituals which are supposed to be part of the duties they perform. They also have power to withhold widowed women’s rights to access customary land without explanation, exposing them to penury, poverty and dependence on others. In rural areas particularly, out-dated customs that are still practiced contribute to the oppression of widows and their associated mental, sexual and reproductive health problems.

Angela points out in her article that women are the primary providers of health in their communities and that health policy needs to pay special attention to the practices that disadvantage widows.

This paper can be downloaded from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10130950.2012.700232

Download Khulumani's MANUAL:

- Produced with support from the Foundation for Human Rights.


    • Widows speak out against discrimination
    • Fight discrimination against widows
    • Widow discrimination is a violation against human rights
    • Widows deserve respect
    • Widows deserve privacy
    • Wake up widows about discrimination
    • Widows are people. They deserve respect
    • Widows have rights- find out about yours.
    • Legislation to protect widows now!
    • Widow consideration now
    • Culture around inheritance hurts widows- make a Will now!
    • Protect your family- make a Will now. Culture around inheritance hurts widows
    • Do you know that some cultural practices hurt widows?
    • Widows are your family
    • Widows are your sisters, mothers, daughters, aunts and nieces
    • Widows- it is hard to wear black for 12 months
    • Would you like to wear black for 12 months/
    • Challenge the cultures around widows
    • One voice for widows
    • Widows have a right to remarry
    • Widows have a right to decide their own lives
    • Widows are not children. They are decision makers
    • Widows unite
    • Widows are women first
    • Widows will always be women- let them live their lives to the full.
    • Widows are not aliens to be excluded
    • Widows are leaders of children
    • Widows are heads of families- deal with it
    • Respect the children of widows
    • Widows – we lost our husbands. We have not lost a lifestyle
    • Widows are not forgotten
    • Khulumani support Group speaking out for widows
    • Khulumani support Group supports widows.
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