Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) conference | Washington, DC

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In January 2024, Prof Tanusha Raniga attended the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) conference in Washington, DC, under the theme of Recentering and Democratizing Knowledge: The Next 30 Years of Social Work Science. The SSWR annual conference offers a scientific programme that reflects a broad range of research interests. From workshops on the latest quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to symposia featuring studies in child welfare, aging, mental health, welfare reform, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS.

Prof Raniga presented her paper titled Sustainable Livelihoods, Entrepreneurship and Low-Income Women’s Economic Empowerment in South Africa. The abstract was selected under the sub-theme Sustainable Development Goals: Social Work Research Insights, hosted by Prof Shanta Pandey from Boston College School of Social Work.

The paper aligns with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development (2020-2030). Focusing on Sustainable Development Goals 2 and 3, the research addresses challenges in eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, particularly in female-headed households in South Africa. Local NGOs collaborate with the government to empower single women on state welfare through entrepreneurial training. Using sustainable livelihood and social development frameworks, the paper explores the experiences of low-income women in business development.

Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted, revealing women’s motivations, obstacles faced, and coping strategies. The findings emphasise the crucial role of NGOs in supporting women entrepreneurs, highlighting challenges such as limited access to financial capital. The paper concludes with recommendations for policymakers and social workers to support women’s livelihoods through initiatives like micro-credit schemes and financial literacy training. Advocacy for government funding is essential to address economic and educational needs in low-income communities.

The paper draws on two published papers which can be viewed below:

  1. Sustainable Livelihoods and Value Chain Development with Women Entrepreneurs: Evidence and Lessons from The Clothing Bank, South Africa
  2. Women Entrepreneurship as a Strategy for Sustainable Livelihoods

Prof Raniga was the only representative from the African continent at the conference and appealed to Prof Sean Joe, the President of the SSWR, for the SSWR to broaden its network to include social work researchers and academics from all parts of the globe.

View the presentation here.