The new political dispensation post 1994 ushered in progressive policies, such as the Rural Development Framework (RDF). The introduction of the Rural Development Framework was the first progressive step towards addressing the socio-economic developmental problems and challenges faced by rural communities in South Africa. The Rural Development Framework declares that almost three quarters of people who live below the poverty line in South Africa reside in rural areas. Of these, children, youths, the elderly and women are particularly vulnerable.
The goal of this study was to determine the impact of the Rural Development Framework on women’s socio-economic development in Thaba Nchu.
The researcher used a qualitative approach for the study. The study was applied and used an instrumental case study design. Purposive and snowballing sampling methods were used to select thirty (30) rural women participants for the study. Data was collected by means of focus groups. The findings revealed that while women have benefited from the RDF socio-economic development projects in Thaba Nchu, they have not done so sufficiently to enable them to achieve sustainable livelihoods. The study concluded that there has been a moderate effort on the side of the government to implement the RDF objectives. Furthermore, within the framework of government’s commitment and support, women should be empowered to drive RDF income - generating projects themselves in order to take charge of their socio-economic development and so achieve sustainable livelihoods.
Recommendations to enhance rural women’s socio-economic development within the context of the RDF include capacity building and empowerment strategies such as communication structures and business skills that would give them a voice to negotiate improved access to income-generating projects and small business opportunities.