Poverty, Household Hunger and Women’s Empowerment in Impoverished Settlements in Johannesburg

By: Daphney Nozizwe Conco  

Hunger and increasing poverty are major problems facing not only rural but also urban areas in South Africa, including its largest city, Johannesburg. Women‘s empowerment features significantly in the international development goals as key to poverty and hunger reduction. This study entails a multidimensional analysis of poverty and an in-depth inquiry into women‘s experiences and perspectives of household hunger and poverty. A mixed methods study design was used. The quantitative study entailed the secondary analysis of a 2006 cross-sectional household survey (n=533) .The quantitative findings steered a methodical process that ensured that the selected participants (n=9) for in-depth interviews represented the poorest households in the study sites. The prevalence of income poverty (64%) in impoverished settlements was higher than provincial and national rates. Household hunger (40%) was associated with multidimensional aspects of poverty. Households below the poverty line were at a higher risk of hunger (OR=4.04, CI: 2.60; 6.32). Multivariate regression showed not being fully employed as the main determinant of household hunger. On the other hand, female heads had lower chances of full employment, and their households were at higher risk of living below the poverty line (OR=1.52, CI: 1.03; 2.25). Yet women, more than men, invested resources in protecting their households from hunger. However, protecting their households did not signify empowerment. In the process of staving off hunger they constantly sacrificed social capital, indicating disempowerment.

Hunger, Chronic Poverty
Food, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Daphney Nozizwe Conco