Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Chike Anyaegbunam


One in ten African women age 15 or older are widows. Approximately 8 million widows live in Nigeria with many living in extreme poverty. Throughout the nation, widows are subjected to physical and psychological harm from their families and communities following the deaths of their husbands. Women are marginalized across Nigeria, but widowed women often experience ostracization and oppression that leads to poverty. Most widows rely on informal business and petty trading to survive but these ventures typically only bring in less than a $1 a day for a family. This dissertation critically examined the situation of widows in a community in Kaduna State, Nigeria, their perceptions about the community, and the struggles and triumphs of their business using community-based participatory research methods. The goal was to identify a path to communication and economic empowerment for widowed women living in the State. The social ecological model, participatory communication principles, and positive deviance were used as conceptual frameworks to conduct one community forum and two focus groups comprised of a total of 103 women living in extreme poverty who were the first recipients of a newly formed microfinance program. Qualitative data from the study show that the widows ranged widely in age and most were HIV+ and had around four children in their care. Data also suggest that the women relied on petty trading but barely made 5,000 Naira a month and had poor living conditions.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)