Working Women


Little is known about health care practices and knowledge among workers in the informal sector, especially regarding child care practices. The constraints are self-evident: how do women working with precarious quality of employment and economic vulnerability navigate the need and choice to work with the requirements of breastfeeding and child care? The absence of structured maternity leave, for example, marks all forms of informal work but in different sectors of informal work, there are even more specific constraints. Women in street vending, for example, face spatial challenges in work sites for breast feeding precisely because they work in public. There is little systematic work that puts together this form of labour and its impact on maternal and child health.

This project aims to learn about patterns of daily life, expectations and current childcare practices including infant and young child feeding, opportunities to provide a conducive and safe environment for improved child care, and attitudes of male partners and co-workers. This will provide information to inform the development of an intervention to improve infant feeding practices among women working in the informal sector. This is a collaborative effort between study teams based in India and South Africa with technical input from the World Health Organization.


  • Interviews conducted with informal working women with children aged < one year in two districts of KZN
  • FGDs conducted with informal working women with children aged < two years in two districts of KZN
  • FGDs conducted with informal working men in two districts of KZN
  • Joint meeting convened with WHO,Geneva; Institute of Human Settlements, Bangalore; Wiego; AeT
  • Research report being prepared
  • Further funding proposal prepared and submitted to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Two manuscripts in draft
  • Further international meeting planned for Delhi, India February 2018.