Presentation on theme: "A lack of assets can exacerbate & perpetuate the negative welfare effects of marital shocks In Africa, women marry young & much older husbands; Widowhood."— Presentation transcript:
A lack of assets can exacerbate & perpetuate the negative welfare effects of marital shocks In Africa, women marry young & much older husbands; Widowhood is a common & potentially devastating shock for women & their children – Evidence that widows & past widows are significantly worse off & less able to provide for their children. – Similar patterns for divorcees – Lower welfare persists through remarriage. – Detrimental effects are passed on to children 1 Dominique van de Walle World Bank June 2012 _________________________________________________________
Women typically … –Have lower individual endowments –lower access to & control over household & community resources/assets –Face more rigid social norms –Have lower legal protection Hence women have little capacity to cope with marital shocks & limited options… 2 Why?
A widow’s options: In some regions (e.g. Mali, Burkina, Senegal), widows remarry, often into polygamous h’holds as lower status wives – One option: levirate marriage; allows her to keep children Elsewhere (e.g. South Eastern Nigeria), widows do not remarry; often shunned, ostracized, dispossessed. In such circumstances, assets (human, physical, financial) are a life saver Senegal –Importance of a shelter/dwelling –Education or job –Sons –Gratuity/pension –Parents/brothers alive & willing to take in the widow & her children 3
4 Operational and Policy implications Difficulty of changing the situation through laws: low awareness; lack of access to formal judicial system; lack of financial resources to mount legal challenge social pressures to conform to traditional norms; risks to widow fear of reprisals from lineage for violating customary law Serious source of vulnerability and intergenerational transmission of poverty– safety nets should take this into account Independence & greater certainty through a steady source of income would give widows more control over their & their children’s destinies.