The Role of the Informal Economy in Helping Women Fight Poverty
Yandiswa Mpetsheni
Statistics South Africa, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

The South African MDG report of 2010 showed that a higher proportion of women than that of men lived below the poverty line. However, the proportion of both men and women living below the poverty line had declined between 2000 and 2005. One of the factors that could have contributed to the observed decline was the participation of women in the labour market. The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey of 2010 showed that the informal sector contributed 16.1% of women total employment, Private households contributed 16.0% while agriculture and formal sector contributed 3.6% and 64.3% respectively. However, with the exception of the formal sector, the informal sector workers had higher median earnings compared to private household and agricultural workers. Private household workers earned 62.5% of what informal sector workers earned, while agricultural sector workers earned 75,8% of what informal sector workers earned. These results imply that the informal sector can positively contribute to poverty alleviation. The study will focus on women in the informal sector and informal sector contribution to poverty alleviation for women. The paper will also outline the challenges potentially exist in using the informal economy to fight poverty for women.

Keywords: Poverty; Informal economy; Labour market; Informal sector

Biography: Ms Yandiswa Mpetsheni is an Executive Manager at Statistics South Africa. Over the past 11 years at Stats SA she worked in different areas in the field of statistics and these include the Census, Social Statistics and Labour Statistics. She is currently the head of the National Statistics System.