The Human Security Implications of Migration on Zimbabwean Migrant Women in South Africa

  • Victoria Mutambara University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Naidu Maheshvari University of KwaZulu-Natal
Keywords: Economic insecurity, Poverty, Identity, Livelihood, Xenophobia


A large number of people enter the South African borders legally and illegally
from Zimbabwe in pursuit of secure, better living conditions. Amongst those
people are women. This paper argues that most of the women who migrate to
South Africa escape from insecurity in Zimbabwe, only to be confronted with
other human security challenges in South Africa. The paper presents an overview
of the theoretical framework of the human security paradigm, which helps to
unpack how the experiences of Zimbabwean migrant women can be labelled as
forms of insecurity. Using qualitative data, the paper discusses the possible
human insecurity aspects that force the women to leave their home country and
the challenges that they encounter in the host country. The findings of the paper
indicate that economic insecurity and poverty highly influence the decisions and
choices for migration for most of the women. However, the women’s expectations
of better lives and human security appear to contradict their social experiences.
The migrant women face multiple forms of discrimination and violence that are
constructed around their identities as women, non-citizens and black Africans.
Cumulatively, most of the women experience gender-based violence and
discrimination from South African citizens, foregrounded in xenophobic
sentiments. Therefore, this paper reaches the conclusion that migrant women
are victims of the compounded trauma of insecurities, as many of them would
have encountered human insecurity consequences in their home country.

Author Biographies

Victoria Mutambara, University of KwaZulu-Natal

University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Naidu Maheshvari, University of KwaZulu-Natal

University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa