Lone Mothers in South Africa - The role of social security in respecting and protecting dignity.
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The purpose of this document is to define the group of people whom we are considering as part of the project ‘Lone Mothers in South Africa: The role of social security in respecting and protecting dignity’. Setting to one side the group of interest briefly (‘lone mothers’), the project originates from research undertaken for the South African Department of Social Development (DSD) about attitudes to employment and social security (Noble et al., 2008; Ntshongwana and Wright, 2010a and 2010b; Ntshongwana et al., 2010; Surender et al., 2007; Surender et al., 2010). During the fieldwork for that programme of research, participants in focus groups repeatedly made the unprompted point that poverty eroded their sense of dignity. Given that the South African Constitution declares that people have inherent dignity and that dignity should be protected and respected (Republic of South Africa, 1996), we decided to dedicate a separate project to exploring the role that social security currently plays in relation to people’s sense of dignity. Specifically we hoped to explore whether social assistance, as a financial transfer to low income people, serves to help to protect and respect people’s dignity, or conversely whether there are ways in which the country’s social security arrangements serve to undermine people’s dignity.