Exploring elements that contribute to resilience in young African women from a high-risk urban community in the North-West Province of South Africa
Nadat, Yasin Tashmir
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Black South African women, Setswana women in particular, who reside in high-risk urban communities - townships and informal settlement communities are faced with many challenges daily. Adversities include poverty, unemployment, gender-based violence and an increased risk of mental illness. Despite township-related risks, young Setswana women are coping positively and exhibiting “resilience”. Resilience is concerned with positive outcomes despite the presence of significant risk. Knowledge regarding the contributing elements to the resilience of young Setswana women is scant. Similarly, the role that Setswana culture and religion play is limited. Two theories underpinned the study. The Protective Factor Model of Resilience focuses on the factors that lessen the likelihood of negative outcomes in high-risk situations; assets (internal) and resources (external). Religion stood out as the most important resource that contributed to the resilience of young Setswana women. Others included altruistic qualities and a strong focus on future goal accomplishment. Social support from female kin was a significant resource; mothers, grandmothers, teachers for example were essential to resilience. The Social Ecology of Resilience Theory (SERT) (Ungar, 2008) was used to examine the role that culture and religion play in the resilience of young Setswana women living in a township. SERT investigates the connection between physical resources and social ecologies such as good self-esteem and the link to resilience. SERT is based upon four principles; decentrality, atypicality, complexity and cultural relativity (Ungar, 2011). Based upon SERT, Setswana culture is old-fashioned and gender unequal. Young Setswana women are more reliant upon religion when faced with stressors. According to South African youth, religion and culture should be independent of each other due to the contradicting beliefs and can therefore not co-exist. To conclude: The study aimed to qualitatively explore and describe the experiences of young, resilient Setswana women who reside in a high-risk urban area in the North-West Province of South Africa. Findings on internal assets and external physical resources that lessen the likelihood of negative outcomes in high-risk situations and contribute to the formation of resilience were discussed.
- Health Sciences