International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Our Lives are in Your Hands: Survival Strategies of Elderly Women Heads Households in Rural Nigeria
Eboiyehi, Friday Asiazobor

Though many studies have been conducted on elderly women in Nigeria, these studies have neglected elderly women heads of household. The neglect is attributed to the general belief that the well-being of elderly women is the responsibilities of their extended families which has consequently contributed to poor policy response to their wellbeing. Motivated by the increasing deterioration of their living arrangements as well as their inability to meet their daily needs and those of their household members, the paper investigates the problems confronting elderly women heads of household and their survival strategies in purposively chosen rural communities in Nigeria. Primary data were obtained using qualitative methods. Eighteen focus group discussions (FGDs) and 48 in-depth interviews (IDIs) were conducted among women heads of households aged 60 years or older across the six geopolitical zones. Yawi in Bornu State (North East); Ungogo in Kano State (North West); Jarawa-kogi in Plateau State (North Central); Awo Mbieri in Imo State (South East); Urohi in Edo State (South-south) and Ikoyi in Osun State (South West) were purposively chosen from these geo-political zones taking into consideration the number of households headed by elderly women. Data were analyzed using ethnographic technique. Providing care for orphaned children, lack of regular income, constant ill health, struggling to procure food, poor access to basic healthcare, loneliness, isolation, abandonment, poor nutrition and poverty were the major problems identified by the interviewees. Consequently, they engaged in all kinds of odds jobs such as trading, farming, alms-begging and reliance on family and community support as economic survival strategies. The policy implications of the paper are also discussed.

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