Experiences of Women in Precarious Employment in South Africa’s Economy


  • Tanusha Raniga University of Johannesburg




single mothers, second economy, economic experiences


South African policy discourses about the feminisation of poverty have been dominated by the notion that poor women remain poor because they are trapped in the “second economy” disconnected from the mainstream first economy. Based on research conducted in Makhushane in rural Limpopo and in one low-income community in Gauteng, I present compelling evidence for complex practices of reciprocity of informal economic activity and self-employment. The article examines women’s agency in informal work with particular reference to the heterogeneous nature of the South African economy. This article profiles the lives of 16 single mothers who provide insights into the challenges they confront while working in the second economy. I argue that these forms of informal livelihood activities are economically invaluable and subsidiary and supplement the first economy in complex ways. By examining the lives of single mothers, this article attempts to testify to the persistence of gender inequalities and complex life choices and life chances that women confront in the second economy. This article seeks to contribute to the discourses on gender and economic development and calls for policymakers to support the livelihood strategies of women who are found at the margins of the first economy.


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Author Biography

Tanusha Raniga, University of Johannesburg

My research foccus is social protection policy, feminisation of poverty and community development. My teaching areas include social policy and community development.


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How to Cite

Raniga, Tanusha. 2022. “Experiences of Women in Precarious Employment in South Africa’s Economy”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 34 (1):18 pages . https://doi.org/10.25159/2708-9355/8847.
Received 2020-12-15
Accepted 2021-11-21
Published 2022-03-15