A feminist analysis of the 1996 South African population census with specific focus on the questions pertaining to the household : implications for development policy and practice.
This study analyses the 1996 South African population census from a feminist perspective by focusing on the questions pertaining to the household. It considers the issue of gender power relations operating at the level of the household and challenges the underlying patriarchal ideology embedded in the census itself. The study into households is situated within the context of current development discourse and practice, and is premised on the role of the census as a key national resource providing information on all sectors of society. Individual structured interviews were carried out with members of the census task team who provided valuable insight into the process of census making. Interviews with academics and activists working on gender issues were also conducted. A semi-structured focus group discussion was conducted with five women living in the Molweni district in KwaZulu-Natal in August 1998 to gather information on productive, reproductive and community managing work and activities. The study makes an argument about the importance of including unpaid reproductive work in our national statistics. The census questionnaire is analysed and a few adjustments are recommended that may allow for the inclusion of unpaid, reproductive labour in the national statistical system.