Annual Forum Papers

Economic Policy and Women's Informal and Flexible Work in South Africa

  • Year: 2000
  • Author(s): Imraan Valodia

This paper examines the gender dimensions of the growth in informal and flexible work in South Africa and the government's policy response to this. The paper outlines the growth in informal and flexible work practices, and as illustrative examples, analyses how trade and industrial policies and labour market policies are impacting on the growth informal and flexible work. It is argued that the South African government's trade and industrial policies are shifting the economy onto a path of capital intensification. Allied to this, firms are undergoing a process of extensive restructuring. These developments are further promoting the growth of flexibilization and informalization, and thereby disadvantaging women. The paper demonstrates that whilst government offers a vast package of support measures to large business, its policy is largely irrelevant to the survivalist segment of small business, where most women in the informal economy are to be found. The picture for labour policy is more diverse. Aspects of the labour legislation are promoting the growth of a dual labour market, whilst there seems to be some tightening up of practices aimed at by-passing aspects of the protection provided to workers.