South Africa: Policies Must Ensure Inclusion of Women in the Economy

While more women graduate from institutions of higher learning, they remain the most affected by unemployment in comparison to men.

According to the Council on Higher Education's Vital Stats report, 59 487 women graduated with degrees from public universities in 2017 compared to 36 627 men. A similar trend is evident when considering students who graduated with diplomas and certificate qualifications.

This injustice is not acceptable and cannot be allowed to continue in a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and equal society, Deputy President David Mabuza told Parliament on Thursday.

"There is no doubt that transforming the world of work for women and ensuring their inclusion into economic growth and mainstream economic activities requires the elimination of discriminatory laws, policies, practices and social norms.

"To achieve this, there should be a concerted effort to implement legislative and policy interventions to address women discrimination and advance gender equality," he said.

Addressing the National Assembly, the Deputy President said since 1994 government has adopted different equality and other empowering laws, including policies and charters which have quotas or targets for equity.

For example, South Africa now has the Employment Equity Act of 1998 and its amendments and the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act of 2003 and its amendments.

The country has also adopted legislative directives to embrace a new and broader agenda for equal employment opportunities for women in an attempt to improve women's standing in the workplace.

"The Employment Equity Act has been further amended to include the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in order to bridge the wage gap between men and women.

"If implemented correctly, these anti-discriminatory directives will allow women to have a chance to enter the workplace in an equal manner, not only as a form of empowerment for women, but also to contribute equally to economic growth and capacity building within the country.

"Consequently, giving women equal employment opportunities that will enhance their social and economic standing."

Mabuza said relevant Constitutional institutions are working tirelessly to ensure that women are represented in the various facets of society, including educational institutions and the labour market.

"The Commission for Gender Equality plays a crucial role of monitoring and evaluating policies and practices of organisations - both in the public and private sector - across society to promote gender equality."

The Deputy President said, meanwhile, that the systematic exclusion of women and workplace discriminatory practices are rooted in patriarchal culture, social systems of male dominance, and gender stereotypes that undermine the role and standing of women in society.

These social norms and gender stereotypes tend to be replicated in recruitment and selection processes for employment.

"As government, we will continue with efforts to ensure that we make more progress in ensuring the representation of women."

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