Probing the Context of Vulnerability: Zimbabwean Migrant Women’s Experiences of Accessing Public Health Care in South Africa

  • Victoria M Mutambara
  • Maheshvari Naidu
Keywords: South Africa, Violence, Gender, Health access, Migration


The economic meltdown and worsening levels of poverty in Zimbabwe led to a
significant increase in the number of women migrating to South Africa from 2005 to
2010 (Crush et al., 2015: 367). A Southern African Migration Programme (SAMP)
survey in 1997 found that 61% of Zimbabwean migrants were male and 39% were
female (Crush et al., 2015: 367). This suggested that there was an increase in the
number of women migrating to South Africa compared with other countries in
Southern Africa. This gives us reason to ‘speculate’ that the numbers could have
increased a decade later because of the economic crisis that resulted in large numbers
of people migrating out of Zimbabwe. Most Zimbabwean women are now moving
across borders independently of their spouses and partners in search of better and
sustainable livelihoods (Dzingirai et al., 2015: 13; Mbiyozo, 2019). Whilst some have
valid immigration documents, a large number of these women are undocumented,
which heightens their vulnerability to various structures of violence (Bloch, 2010;
Rutherford, 2020: 172).