Social Security in South Africa - A gender and human rights analysis

AHRCentre project director, Beth Goldblatt, has recently published an article on social security in South Africa in Verfassung und Recht in Übersee VRÜ 47(1) (2014) pp 22-42. She writes that South Africa has a large social assistance programme that plays a critical role in addressing extreme poverty. The strong constitutional rights framework, including a right to social security, underpins the development of this programme. Women are the major recipients of social assistance grants but in most cases collect grants for the benefit of their children (in the form of Child Support Grants). Working age people who are able-bodied are not provided with social assistance despite the high levels of unemployment in the country.

Women, who are poorer with less access to paid work, are most disadvantaged by this gap. A recent move to attach conditions to the Child Support Grant is analysed from a gender and human rights perspective. The article considers some of the arguments relating to ‘conditionality’ in social security and finds that this move is unnecessary, impractical and a possible violation of human rights as well as a worrying trend in a system that has previously made little use of conditions. The article concludes by proposing a deliberative process of ensuring that the social security right becomes a gender-responsive vehicle for fundamental social change.

To download the article, click here.