You are here: Home » Oral testimonies » Living with poverty: Zambia » Gender


Issues mentioned include women’s role and position, vulnerability of widows, lack of economic opportunities, and the impact of HIV and AIDS. Women seem to be the more enthusiastic members of savings clubs and craft groups.

Sara was an orphan, has been widowed twice, and both her children have died. Her story reveals how precarious the position of a lone woman is, but also how the community helps women like her.

Grace is less vulnerable but her husband’s absence and attitude – he will only contribute to their son’s upbringing, and ignores their daughter’s needs – puts great economic pressure on her.

Anna is explicit about the need to be financially independent of men.

describes some community activities and discussions but says “men dominate high positions”.

Mirriam’s story reveals how her father’s death brought poverty to his widow and children because his relatives took all the cattle and property, a practice she says no longer exists.

Some of the men also speak about gender issues. Dominic confesses they “suppress women a bit”, while Warren appreciates how hard they work: “Women are a better tool in this community.”


Gender is a key theme of the Living with poverty: Zambia oral testimony project.


Anna: strong and hardworking

Benson: people need jobs

Dominic: valuing tradition

Edward: anxiety of poverty

Gilbert: cattle is wealth

Grandwell: sustained support

Mirriam: dedicated to others

Ruth: a mother’s struggle

Sara: coping without family

Utrina: working the land

Warren: the HIV burden

Grace: an open approach

Key themes

Introduction to the project


Food security


Water and drought


Survival strategies

Self-help and community support


Loans and debt

Political representation

The cycle of poverty