South Africa attracts thousands of refugees and is regarded as a key destination for migrants on the African continent (Knowledge, 2013:24). The country has enshrined refugee rights in its Constitution (Republic of South Africa [RSA], 1996) and ratified the United Nations Refugee Convention (1951) and the Organisation for African Union (OAU) Refugee Convention (2000). In order to domesticate these regional and international commitments, the government introduced the Refugee Act 130 of 1998. However, the country is faced by a huge gap between implementation, monitoring and coordination of the different refugee policies and legislation which has left many refugee women with enormous challenges to attain basic civil, social and economic rights. Research reveals that women refugees are the most deprived and constitute the majority of the displaced persons in the world (UNHCR, 2000 in Mulumba, 2005:28).
The goal of the study was to explore the challenges that refugee women in Sunnyside, Tshwane encounter to shift from survival to sustainable livelihood strategies.
The qualitative research study was applied and exploratory in nature and utilised an instrumental case study design. The population for the study was all the refugee women in Sunnyside, Tshwane. A purposive sampling technique was used to select 23 refugee women participants for the study. Data was collected through one-on-one interviews which were conducted according to a semi-structured interview schedule. The findings show that most refugee women find it extremely difficult to find an adequate job despite being educated or having stayed in the country for a long period. If they do get a job, it is mostly part time, or more than one part-time job to make ends meet. Due to a lack of decent work, their income remains low, which in turn, influences their access to adequate health services, further education, education for their children, adequate shelter, and food security.
The researcher concludes that the socio-economic challenges that refugee women face, keep them trapped in poverty, expose them to discrimination, violence, exclusion, and humiliation.
The study recommends a strong national legal framework which includes full implementation and monitoring of the South African Refugee Act 130 of 1998 and support of other policies and strategies which will increase the provision of social protection and will promote basic civil, social and economic rights for refugee women.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2016.