The senseless murders of Hilary Gardee and Namhla Mtwa have caused national outrage and put a spotlight on the prevailing issue of violence against women in South Africa. Citizens across the country have taken to the streets to voice their grievances and to call upon urgent governmental intervention amidst the rise of incidences of femicide and violent attacks on women. Gender -based violence is a systemic issue that reflects deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes that permeate every facet of our lives. Women are subjected to it wherever they go – from their encounters with family and friends to their places of employment. While all informal workers, regardless of their gender, experience violence and abuse due to their lack of social protection, women in the informal economy are disproportionately affected due to the intersectionality of their gender and the lack of formal working conditions (WIEGO, 2018).

As the national representatives of 5,2 million informal economy workers, of which women comprise the majority, the IEDF condemns the violence and strongly discourages the climate of toxic masculinity that has become dominant within society. For an informal worker, violence in the workplace can take up many different forms which can include verbal, physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Moreover, violence in the workplace can emerge from different sources – the most prominent perpetrators come from the state and include law enforcement officials, municipal officers, and traffic officials. Perpetrators could also include fellow workers, members of their households, customers or users of their services or anyone who exhibits some type of authority over them (WIEGO 2018).

As, the collective voice of the South African informal economy, the IEDF and the South African Informal Traders Alliance (SAITA) have joined forces to call on all informal and micro business owners and employees, regardless of their gender, to observe Orange Day as part of the United Nations UNiTE campaign. The campaign is a show of solidarity and aims to create awareness and call for the end of the violence against women and girls by wearing orange on the 25th day of each month. Paul Bester, the National Director of Informal Economy Support of IEDF states, “Too often we are seeing reports of the senseless murder of innocent, strong women, the most recent being the tragic death of Hillary Gardee. As a community of informal traders, we cannot stand idly by while women and girls are being hurt or murdered. We can only begin to fix this scourge once every sector, community, city, village and township commits to rooting out gender-based violence where we work and live. It is for this reason that we are calling on all informal traders and small and micro businesses to show their support for women and girls, and ending gender-based violence, by wearing orange on the 25th day of every month.”

Bester says in addition to raising awareness by wearing orange, he would also like to see informal traders and micro business owners, predominantly women, become activists for the rights of women and girls.

“There are a number of ways that we can collectively instill this activism,” says Bester. “The first is to take a firm stand against GBV, in the workplace, home and in the communities in which we live. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable, and it is only when we all take a firm stand against it that it will create a behavioural change within society. “The second is to be part of creating safe-havens or safe spaces for women and girls who need help and to help guide them to the proper channels to receive professional assistance. The third is to teach our boys how to treat women, and to stop instilling a culture of toxic masculinity. This will create a generation of men that will think and behave differently towards women.”


WIEGO, 2018. Violence and Informal Work: Briefing Note. Available online at: [Accessed 14 June 2022]

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