The study aims to alert policy makers and planners in the City of Johannesburg to the problems and coping mechanisms which undermines the business performance of female street vendors in the informal economy. The research made use of twelve in-depth interviews with male and female street vendors and alluded to the reality faced by females relative to males. In addition, five interviews were conducted with leaders of organisations representing the informal sector. The findings suggest that female traders are burdened with responsibilities of child and family care which can limit the extent of their trading. Furthermore they have little access to finance and capital to expand their businesses. More women were found to be victims of crime and they experienced a sense of helplessness at the hands of criminals. Other problems experienced by both male and female traders include: inadequate trading spaces, infrastructural challenges and harassment by the Metro Police. The research concludes that the formation of street vendor co-operatives (similar to those that have been successful elsewhere), education and training, and more balanced enforcement of municipal by-laws may alleviate some of the challenges.