A human security analysis of the situation of girls and young women in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Christopher Isike, Kwame Owusu-Ampomah


Background: This paper is a product of a study which emanated from the need to get a nuanced understanding of the situation of young women in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in South Africa to inform evidence-based planning and programming. It aimed to analyse the lived experiences of girls and young women in the province focusing on broad questions around the challenges they face daily and interventions required to change their life circumstances in light of the socio-economic profile of the province. Conceptual themes were developed around the Human Security framework to contextualise the analysis.

Data and Methods:  The study adopted a mixed methods approach in which qualitative and quantitative methods were combined for data collection and analysis. Quantitative data was collected from a randomly selected sample of 229 girls (aged 9-17 years) and young women (aged 18 – 35) from four District Municipalities in KZN. The dataset was statistically analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Qualitative data was generated through in-depth interviews, involvng key stakeholders (16); and focus group discussions (nine sessions). The qualitative dataset was thematically and hermeneutically analysed to generate insights into the lived experiences of the target population and policy implementation and outcomes.

Results and conclusion: The findings show that majority of the respondents have difficulty accessing reproductive health services available in the province. Also, they did not feel safe in their communities; there was also evidence in support of the abolition of harmful cultural practices such as Ukuthwala (forced marriage) and Ukuphelwa (female circumcision) which affect them. The paper concludes that it will be self-destructive for the provincial government to ignore the lived experiences of the respondents, which other studies show are not different from the lived experiences of girls and young women in the province who, alongside boys and young men of similar age cohort, constitute over 70% of the provincial population. 


Girls, Young women; KwaZulu-Natal; Human Security; South Africa

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11564/31-1-952


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