Unregulated informal sector exploiting female workers – Capital Radio Malawi
19 April, 2024

Unregulated informal sector exploiting female workers

Jessica Mandanda

Chrissy Sabola is a mother of three from Thyolo district. The dark skinned Chrissy appears deep in thoughts as she plaits her friend’s hair at a garden adjacent to a compound where she works in Lilongwe’s Area 49.

My attempt to strike up a conversation with her is what brought out voices of hopelessness. Chrissy left her three children at her home district four years ago work as a house maid in town.

Chrissy Sabola

In her mid-30s, she is among a significant proportion of economic migrants in Malawi. Women and girls are fast becoming a vast majority of all migrant domestic workers.

As cities in Malawi welcome migrants from rural areas, there are however hidden stories of women in the informal sector. As attested by Chrissy, it is evident that cities impact migrant women and men differently.

“Employers mostly look down on us, it is a hustle to find jobs in the informal sector just because we are women but we are capable of doing any kind of work that men can do” she points out.

Working in the informal sector leaves a lot of women without protection of labour laws. They work for lower wages and sometimes in unsafe conditions. The lack of social protection has an adverse impact on women as statistics show that 74 percent of women in Sub-Saharan African are in informal employment.

Just like Chrissy, this man Foster Jere, aged 35 from Mulanje district has stayed in town for close to ten years. He recounts how women have on several occasions been dropped from jobs because of their gender.

Foster Jere

“They look at women as failures but women are capable of doing what men can do, I plead with employers not to underrate women’s capability if we are to progress as a nation” Jere explains.

Women rights activist, Sandra Mapemba notes that a lot of women are facing numerous socio-economic challenges due to unemployment.

Mapemba suggests the introduction of tailor-made programs to financially empower women as a means of reducing their plight.

“There is a need for deliberate policies targeting women and linkages to opportunities and mentorship to help women excel and access funding facilities” says Mapemba.

Malawi envisions closing the gender gaps and economically empower women by the year 2063 as highlighted in the country’s development blueprint.

Challenges that women face in pursuit of employment are however derailing the government’s efforts to attain this status.

Communications and Engagements Lead for Equality Now Jessica Mandanda challenges that women face, demand a multifaceted approach to deal with them for Malawi is to attain its goals.

“These challenges lead women into the informal sector which has a number of setbacks. The sector is unregulated which leaves room to several forms of exploitation or gender based violence,” says Mandanda.

This story was produced with support from the Women in News Gender Balance reporting Initiative

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *