Exploring adaptation and agency of mothers caring for disabled children inan urban settlement in South Africa: A qualitative study
van der Mark, Elise J
Dedding, Christine W.M.
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Mothers of disabled children who are living in poverty face multiple interlinked disadvantages in relation togender, care, disability, and poverty. Yet, their experiences have been largely neglected in academic literature.This study explores how mothers from a poor urban settlement in South Africa manoeuvre, adapt, act and reactin such a difficult context, and how they maintain or improve their own and their family's wellbeing. Ourqualitative research with 30 mothers shows women's adaptation and agency in the trade-offs they make. Fuelledby social discrimination and abuse, mothers prefer to focus solely on the child, its care and the household inorder to keep themselves and their child safe. Despite providing certain benefits that mothers value, thesepreferences perpetuate or indeed worsen their position in society, as they reinforce traditional gender structuresand render them invisible to policymakers. This poses serious challenges for women's empowerment and gender-sensitive poverty-reduction policies.