Public space and informal employment. The contribution of women-led solidarity movements in promoting decent work and social dialogue in South Africa

This paper draws inspiration from the Self-Employed Women’s Association, widely cited in labour studies literature as a pivotal social movement set up in India in 1972 by Gandhian and civil rights leader Ela Bhatt with the objective of empowering poor women who work in the informal sector. This paper provides a detailed argument on the role and contribution that women-led solidarity-based movements have had on protecting and advocating for informal workers’ right to social dialogue in South Africa. The arguments provided in this paper originate from an empirical survey carried out at the Belville Transport Interchange in Cape Town that sought to understand how different groups of informal workers were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions. The contributions made by informal worker organisations such as the South African Informal Traders Alliance, South African Waste Pickers Association and the Belville Traders Association will be discussed at length.

The department proudly congratulates Shaka on his achievement!