Gender, race and ageing in South Africa

SOURCE: Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.Makiwane, C.Ndinda, H.Botsis
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 7621
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/3069

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The proportion of persons 60 and older in South Africa is projected to almost double over the 30 year period between 2000-2030, from 7% to 12%, because of a marked decline in fertility in the last few decades. For Africans in particular, population ageing has meant that a larger proportion of females are reaching old age than their male counterparts (Makiwane, Schneider and Gopane, 2004), leading to a higher proportion of elderly households being headed by women. Through a secondary analysis of the General Household Survey data (2010) this paper explores the intersection between gender, race and ageing in South Africa. The findings from the analysis suggest that more than six out of ten older persons in South Africa are females who generally live longer than males. African females are the least educated and White males are the majority among the elderly with a matric and post-matric qualification. White women are the majority amongst women with secondary school and post-matric qualification and African women are least represented amongst elderly women in employment with the percentage of White women being much lower than that of elderly White men in employment. In feminist politics and theory the imbrication of gender, race and class in explicating women's experiences and development outcomes has been conceptualised in the notion of "intersectionality", a term that denotes the ways in which race, gender and class interact to shape women's, and particularly, Black women's experiences in society. In South Africa, race, gender and class intersect in complex ways to shape elderly peoples experiences and development outcomes. This Article argues that state intervention is required to ensure that the most vulnerable group among the elderly population is ensured for a decent standard of living in their old age.