Seven Women Speak: Perceptions of Economic Empowerment Among Women in Cape Town

Type Journal Article - On Our Terms: The Undergraduate Journal of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies
Title Seven Women Speak: Perceptions of Economic Empowerment Among Women in Cape Town
Volume 3
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 85-129
The research study described in this paper examines women’s perceptions of their economic
opportunities and sense of empowerment in Cape Town. Although the status of women in
South Africa has improved since apartheid, there are still significant inequalities among
women and men in the workforce. This gender discrimination has reverberating effects on the
poverty and development of South Africa as a nation, as many argue that women’s economic
empowerment is directly correlated with the overall growth of a country. South African
policymakers would benefit from comparing and analyzing women’s views of their own
economic opportunities, as this study highlights that women experience complex forms of
discrimination based on their identities in society today. The participants of this small-scale
qualitative research study are seven women of diverse races and ages. The synthesis of this
cross-racial and generational research provides a non-representative sample of the concerns of
women in Cape Town regarding economic empowerment. From these interviews it was found
that cultural upbringing is a highly influential factor in women’s economic success that can
significantly limit or promote women’s economic empowerment. This research also
highlighted underlying insecurities that many women in the workforce feel regarding their
professional abilities and value, an issue that results from intersectional oppressions
experienced by women and from apartheid’s legacies of patriarchal power dynamics. Overall,
the findings of this study suggest that women’s experiences with economic empowerment
depend greatly on their unique culture and family structure, rather than purely racial and
class distinctions. This research highlights the intersectional gender discrimination faced by
women in Cape Town and emphasizes the need to address oppressive remnants of apartheid
in South Africa today

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