Women and Social Capital in Zimbabwe: A Statistical Analysis
Social capital has become an increasingly investigated variable in understanding citizen participation, or lack of it, in public life and politics. Whilst there are reservations about the explanatory power of the concept, there are also demonstrations that social capital is a factor that influences communities, lowers crime, and may increase political participation. Although demographic variables do not seem to influence the growth of social capital, at least one study indicates that there are some gender differences (Onyx & Bullen. 2000).
There are few studies of social capital in African countries, which is interesting given the strong and central role that women play in communities, and especially rural communities. One study has examined the relationship between social capital and political violence (Bhavnani & Backer. 2007), but the relationship between social capital and active citizenship more generally remains virgin territory. A recent Zimbabwean study, which included social capital as one variable in examining active citizenship, found differences between urban and rural residency in two measures of social capital, intimate and institutional trust (RAU. 2015). However, this study did not examine social capital in the broader sense, including belonging to community groups or attending community meetings, for example.