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Women's households and social exclusion

A look at the urbanisation dimension

Article image

Catherine Cross

01 January 2008

Human Sciences Research Council


stepSA Librarian

Research report

Spatial Temporal Evidence for Planning South Africa (stepSA)

South Africa

It is widely agreed that women-headed households are the most excluded constituency in South Africa. Government delivery aims specifically to empower poor women and their families to gain access to the developed economy in order to promote their escape from poverty, but how best to do this is not always clear. Poverty at household level relates closely to where the household is able to settle, in relation to whether members can access the job market. Beyond subsidy housing and social grants as the main vehicles of anti-poverty delivery, there are policy implications for how South Africa deals with women’s urbanisation and housing delivery.


Using 2007/8 qualitative and quantitative survey data across three provinces, the Human Sciences Research Council's (HSRC’s) work for the Department of Science and Technology (DST)-sponsored Toolkit for Integrated Planning Project (TIP) project showed that major types of settlement have specific demographic profiles associated with specific types of housing. The share of women’s households is one such factor, and the types of settlement where women concentrate are often marginalised for earning opportunities.


This article begins to analyse the poverty dynamics and consequences of where women’s households live, in relation to their access to earning opportunities. Questions include: Where are women’s households placed now in the space economy? Does the present location situation allow women access to earning opportunities or does exclusion prevail? Do women benefit from greater access to economic opportunities in the metro urban core zones?

Abstract based directly on source.


Website References

Built environment

Demographic surveys




Housing policy

Human settlements



Metropolitan municipalities


Poverty & inequality

South Africa

Urban and Regional Dynamics



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