The social construction of risk among adolescent girls : a case study of Ntcheu and Salima Districts in Malawi
MetadataShow full item record
The issue of gender has been a much talked about topic in spheres of relief and by disaster risk reduction practitioners. Disasters tend to affect the poorest and most marginalised people the hardest. Women and children are likely to suffer higher rates of death, loss and economic damage. Gender is a socially constructed phenomena anchored in cultural norms and beliefs. It is therefore widely considered socially appropriate for individuals to behave in a specific way. These societal expectations tend to increase the disaster risk of some unique segments of society, especially adolescent girls. The aim of this research was to find the social factors contributing to the gendered construction of risk among adolescent girls in the Ntcheu and Salima districts in Malawi. This was done in order to highlight the plight of this unique sub-group in society within a Southern Africa context and to build onto research based knowledge that is cropping up. This research involved qualitative secondary data analysis of transcribed scripts. Thematic analysis was used to come up with basic, organising and global themes and these were used as units of analysis. Analysis of themes highlighted the major determinates contributing to the gendered construct of risk. These could be explained using seven extracted attributes, viz: gendered educational opportunities, gendered poverty, gendered value of life, gendered social justice, gendered empowerment, gendered food security and gendered labour opportunities. The most important attribute was that of gendered educational opportunities as it cut across other factors and appeared to close most avenues through which adolescent girls can build their capacity The results of this study highlighted the need to confront the gendered plight of adolescent girls by engagement of all stakeholders in communities. This, coupled with education, involving adolescent girls in decision making and community development projects can go a long way in building their capacity and thus reducing their risk to disasters.