The South African National Department of Housing's 'Breaking New Ground: A Comprehensive Plan for the Creation of Sustainable Human Settlements' was released in 2004. This policy directive acknowledged that informal settlements had grown significantly since 1994. It resulted in the development and implementation of the informal settlement upgrading programme across the country. The principle objective of the study discussed in this paper was to investigate the City of Cape Town's (the City) rationale in the technique of upgrading the informal settlements of Makhaza and New Rest in Cape Town and explore the implications of this rationale for women's social networks in these two settlements. The research has found that the rationale used by the City to plan and implement the upgrading of informal settlements is contradictory to the needs of the residents within these settlements. The settlements therefore do not meet the needs of the residents (particularly women) and do not enable or ensure the maintenance of strong social relationships which are crucial for the survival of livelihoods in these areas.