Gender, rights and the disability grant in South Africa

Peer-reviewed article
(2009 Aug) Development Southern Africa, 26 369-382


Beth Goldblatt


South Africa's disability grant is critical for the survival of many disabled people and their families, and is especially important to disabled women, who face further disadvantage because of their family responsibilities, their generally deeper poverty and their greater vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. Valuable engagement between feminism and disability theory offers a useful framework for understanding the needs of disabled women in South Africa's social assistance system. This paper sets out the findings of a study of the disability grant system in two provinces in South Africa. It discusses the administrative problems with the system and the financial and other costs that burden the grant applicants and beneficiaries. It proposes that a comprehensive response to poverty, disability and gender inequality is needed, and makes specific recommendations for an improved system.

Keywords: Gender, disability, human rights, social assistance

Livelihood & Social Protection