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Who cares for elderly women in Africa? Reflections on policy and practice in relation to ageing
Ann Stewart Warwick Law School
This paper presents preliminary findings from research undertaken in Kenya relating to the practice colloquially knows as ‘woman to woman’ marriages. These findings are used to reflect on the emerging international and regional policy frameworks relating to ageing. Caring has been the subject of much gender and development based advocacy in recent times which has challenged mainstream productivist policy making which ignores the role of social reproduction. This approach sits uneasily alongside the prevalent view that the African family can, and indeed should, take responsibility for its members despite anxieties that this institution is severely weakened and a context in which the social infrastructure to support life course approaches to ageing are not in place. The research findings reveal that care labour is rooted in wider kinship relationships and reward is closely associated with relations of property and the use of bequeathable assets.