The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty
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The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty

Concepts, Research, Policy

Edited by Sylvia Chant

In the interests of contextualising (and nuancing) the multiple interrelations between gender and poverty, Sylvia Chant has gathered writings on diverse aspects of the subject from a range of disciplinary and professional perspectives, achieving extensive thematic as well as geographical coverage. This benchmark volume presents women’s and men’s experiences of gendered poverty with respect to a vast spectrum of intersecting issues including local to global economic transformations, family, age, ‘race’, migration, assets, paid and unpaid work, health, sexuality, human rights, and conflict and violence.
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Chapter 99: Contradictions in the Gender–Poverty Nexus: Reflections on the Privatisation of Social Reproduction and Urban Informality in South African Townships

Faranak Miraftab


Faranak Miraftab This chapter stresses the importance of two analytical considerations in understanding the relationship between gender and poverty in the Global South: first, the deep informality of the cities in spatial and economic terms, and second, the re-articulation of production–social reproduction relations for the development of cities in the context of global neoliberal capitalism. These two conditions, I argue, simultaneously intensify the burdens that urban development places on women and hence their greater poverty and increase opportunities for active citizenship and collective action by poor women. Combined they place women’s grassroots activism at the centre of a gendered urban poverty analysis. To substantiate this argument I reflect on the experience of poor women in townships of post-apartheid South Africa, whose burden and responsibilities for social reproduction both at home for family and in the neighbourhood for municipal services has expanded. But at the same time, and most importantly, through their community activism for shelter and against evictions and service cut-offs their arena of citizenship practice and collective action has expanded to achieve a more just city. Before I delve further into this discussion I need to make two clarifications: first, to what extent can we assume categories such as ‘women’ or ‘Third World’ in order to present a perspective based on experience of women in cities in the Global South? Of course, women’s experiences internationally are structured by class, ethnicity and race, and locally specific social hierarchies. But in the urban formations of the Global South certain commonalities...

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