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Informal trading in post-apartheid South Africa: an examination of the experiences of black African women street traders in Durban.

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Gender rhetoric has increasingly gained momentum in the post-apartheid era. The increase of engagement in gender related challenges clearly presents many opportunities to debate and confront various experiences surrounding the subject. In understanding that eThekwini Municipality was the first metropolitan City to recognise and implement informal trading sector policies as part of the economy in the year 2000, this research study used gender perspectives to delve into the informal sector and explore the experiences and challenges of black African women street traders in the City of Durban in the post-apartheid era. The existence of unequal power relations in society and economy have been entrenched throughout history with institutions such as the family, organisations and governments playing a crucial role in sustaining the cause not only in South Africa but also in Africa and across the world. These unequal power relations have always favoured and supported males more than females, advancing patriarchy and blocking the capacity of women to participate in social and economic development. As a feminist-based research, the study employed a qualitative research design and method. One on one interview was used to collect data from 15 black African women street traders in Durban. Using qualitative primary data analysis, this research study found that challenges affecting women street traders are influenced by various factors such as poverty, lack of formal education, poor policy implementation by the Municipality, the capital system of formalising the informal sector, social norms of patriarchy and the historical systems of apartheid. Poverty remains an epidemic issue in South Africa. The majority of the black African communities are poor and underprivileged. The research recommends practical measures of implementing policy measures supporting women streets traders and protect them from harsh economic and social conditions that further disadvantage them.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.