THE CONVERSATION: What has changed for rural South African women in the last 25 years

ARCHIVES: THE CONVERSATION: What has changed for rural South African women in the last 25 years

2021-11-28 07:24:00 AM

ARCHIVES: THE CONVERSATION: What has changed for rural South African women in the last 25 years

South Africa has experienced tremendous change over the last quarter century: the first democratically elected government, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, changing health, social and economic policies and now the Covid-19 pandemic.

has, for nearly three decades, conducted health and socio-demographic surveillance in a rural sub-district known as Agincourt, in Mpumalanga province. This surveillance work is enabled by long-standing partnerships with the communities and the public health sector.

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Using data collected and published over the last25 years, we have been able to look for longitudinal trends and do cross-sectional analyses that highlight changes in the lives of women in this typical South African rural setting.Women are continually forced to grapple with inequalities, such as poor access to basic amenities, employment opportunities and quality education, in their rapidly changing environments. It is important to examine the impact that events over the last 25 years have had on them, especially as women play a central role in their communities.

Reflecting on these trends, we can see that the provision of better health services and social grants has aided rural women’s progress in South Africa. But there are still tremendous needs to be met to achieve truly sustainable, equitable development. We believe that enhancing support for rural women creates the potential for major health and socioeconomic improvements for them and their households. headtopics.com

A socio-demographic snapshotAgincourtis adjacent to Mozambique, and one-third of the population are former Mozambican migrants. The study site consists of 31 villages with a population of 116,549 people, living in 22,721 households. Data is regularly collected from households. Women make up 52% of the rural Agincourt population, a proportion that has not significantly changed since 1993. That said, temporary labour migration among women has increased from 10.9% in 1994 to 22.3% in 2018. The percentage of women residing full-time in the rural community has fallen, a trend now typical of South Africa’s rural areas.

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The roles of women in their communities are changing too. The percentage of women-headed households had increased from 31% in 1994 to 44% by 2018. In addition, 42% of women receive social grants and 25% are employed – both figures that have increased over time. These transitions have positive implications for

. Of the women who are employed, 18% are employed by the government and less than 5% are involved in mining, manufacturing or construction.Providing for the next generationChildbearing (fertility) rates across all ages of womenhave declined, with the most pronounced decline occurring in women aged 25-34 years. The total fertility rate dropped from 3.3 in 1994 to 1.7 in 2018. On average, women are now having 1.5 fewer children. One likely reason for the decreased fertility rates is the increased availability and use of contraception and family planning services, a key aspect of the South African government’s

and primary healthcare services package.

Read more: Daily Maverick »

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Small but significant steps. Intrigued by the location selected for the longitudinal study.

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