South Africa: Covid-19 Mitigation Measures Have Neglected Informal Traders, Say Women’s Organisations


‘During Covid, the government never assisted us with anything… we are suffering in the streets. Mothers are suffering because their kids are forced to drop out of school. We are in serious debt’ — informal trader, Miriam Sibiya.

Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising (Wiego) and UN Women have put together an initiative called Coping in Crisis: Informal Workers’ Lives and Livelihoods during Covid-19. It aims to show the gendered impact the pandemic has had on women, particularly those in the informal trading sector.

The organisations spoke to several informal workers and traders who detailed how difficult Covid-19 had made their lives — from being harassed by metro police and having their goods confiscated, to worrying about how to feed their families and how to get their children to school.

Wiego’s policy brief says the plight and needs of women informal traders can be summed up as follows:

Most informal traders are women. Many have lost their jobs and those who continue to work report working fewer hours and/or earning less than they did before the crisis.

To avert chronic hardship, increases to existing grants need to be urgently reinstated, the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant must be…



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