Xenophobic Experiences of Foreign African Women in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Keywords: African women, xenophobia, low-income communities


This paper examines the complex links between poverty, the gendered nature of xenophobia and the related experiences of foreign national women and their struggle to survive while residing in a predominantly informal settlement in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Using feminist methodology, the paper focuses on 12 foreign African women who relate their stories of vulnerability and experiences of xenophobia; a phenomenon they assert is not common in their own home countries. The empirical data discussed in this paper include the women’s motivations for their migration to South Africa and locate this discourse within the broader African socio-cultural, political and economic context. Further, data elicited from the interviews provide insight into the various “shades†of xenophobia as experienced by these women. The paper contributes to the debates on the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality as a prerequisite to poverty alleviation and ultimately economic growth in Africa.