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    South African cities, housing precarity and women's inclusion during COVID-19

    Adebayo, Pauline, Ndinda, Catherine and Ndhlovu, Tidings ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0465-5867 (2022) South African cities, housing precarity and women's inclusion during COVID-19. Agenda, 36 (2). pp. 16-28. ISSN 2158-978X

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    Abstract

    South African history widely documents poor women’s housing exclusion in urban areas during the apartheid era. While the post-apartheid housing programme’s inclusionary objectives resulted in some women’s access to housing, its limited scale and some characteristics of the housing that was delivered meant that many poor women were already experiencing urban exclusion and housing precarity when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Drawing on a growing body of COVID-19-related research as well as government responses, this article uses a gender analysis to unpack the notion of inclusive cities in the context of housing during the pandemic. It argues that despite the evolution of housing policy to include sustainability notions, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 11, which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive and sustainable, challenges to poor women’s urban inclusion not only remain, but have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Low-income women’s exposure to insecurities related to health, safety, affordability and loss of housing have shown cities to be neither inclusive nor sustainable for poor women, while gender-blind interventions have failed to take cognizance of the gendered impact of the pandemic on their housing experience. The article calls for post-pandemic recovery responses that take into account the constraints that hinder women’s urban housing inclusion in the first instance.

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