Socio–economic challenges and the survival mechanisms for the female–headed households in the Bophelong Township
This dissertation studies the socio-economic challenges and the survival mechanisms of female-headed households in Bophelong Township. The study focuses on three areas namely, female-headed households, their socio-economic challenges and survival strategies. The study followed a literature survey first, then an empirical study. The literature study was undertaken to provide a theoretical framework for the empirical work. The survey process was undertaken in two phases. In the first phase, a sample survey of the whole area of Bophelong was undertaken. This was the sample from which female-headed households were identified. In the second phase, a household survey on the female-headed households serving the purpose of this study was undertaken. The method used in the measure of poverty is the Household Subsistence Level (HSL). The HSL measures the minimum amount needed by a household to maintain subsistence. It takes account of the sex and ages of household members. According to the study outcome, poverty levels amongst female-headed households in Bophelong are high. About 77% of sampled female-headed households in Bophelong were poor. The poverty gap index in these households was 0.53; meaning that on average poor households needs 53% of their income to reach their poverty line. High unemployment rate has been found to be prevalent amongst female-headed households in Bophelong, where the rate of 65% was recorded. This high unemployment rate was possibly the cause of poverty in these households together with low educational qualifications among households members; only 2% were found to have a post graduate qualification. Female-headed households in Bophelong township are engaged in a daily struggling to survive. These households have devised various means for survival. These include the search for wild fruits in the nearby areas, immigration to another region and the benefit of school feeding schemes. When it comes to the sources of household income, government grants were found to play an important role in the sustenance of these households. The average household income was calculated at R1760 per month. The average dependency ratio, which measures the number of unemployed who depend on one income earner, was 5.5. Finally, the investigation recommends a more detailed and deeper study relating to the socio-economic challenges faced by the female-headed households. There is also a need to explore on their survival means so as to direct policy actions aimed at addressing socio-economic issues relating to female-headed households in general.