Women's work at end of life: The intersecting gendered vulnerabilities of patients and caregivers in rural Malawi

Lucy Mkandawire-Valhmu, Nancy Kendall, Anne Dressel, Claire Wendland, Victoria L. Scheer, Peninnah Kako, Tammy Neiman, Wilmot Valhmu, Ashley Ruiz, Jeneile Luebke, Peter Minjale, Anne Merriman, Lucy Finch, Leonard Egede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Gender inequality in the form of gender-based violence manifests throughout the course of women's lives but has a particularly unique impact at end of life. We sampled 26 patients and 14 caregivers for this qualitative critical ethnographic study. The study purpose was to describe the lived experience of female palliative care patients in rural Malawi and their caregivers. The specific aims were to (i) analyse physical, spiritual and mental health needs and (ii) guide best healthcare practice. The study was informed by feminist epistemology, which drew us to an analysis focused on how gender inequality and gender-based violence affect the care of those with terminal illness. In this article, based on our findings, we demonstrate how gender inequality manifests through the intersecting gendered vulnerabilities of patients and their caregivers in rural Malawi. The findings specifically provide insight into the gendered nature of care work and how the gendered life trajectories of both patients and caregivers intersect to impact the health and well-being of both groups. Our findings have implications on how palliative care can be scaled up in rural Malawi in support of women who are experiencing intimate partner violence at end of life, and the caregivers responsible for their well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1062-1072
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Feminist theory
  • Malawi
  • caregiving
  • gender-based violence
  • palliative care


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