Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
08 April 2021 | Story Nonsindiso Qwabe | Photo Sonia SMall

How has COVID-19 further widened the gender inequality gap in the workplace?

This was the central question addressed during the first instalment of a webinar series on Gender and Social Justice hosted by the Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice at the University of the Free State (UFS). The webinar, which was hosted on the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on 29 March 2021, featured Prof Pearl Sithole, Qwaqwa Campus Vice-Principal: Academic and Research; Advocate Nthabiseng Sepanya-Mogale, Commissioner at the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE); and Tholo Motaung, skills trainer, moderator, and gender activist at the Vaal University of Technology as panellists. 

Prof Sithole said COVID-19 revealed the disparity that still exists between men and women in the workplace. “COVID-19 has been the magnifier. We’ve modernised quite a lot, but we’re still unequal in terms of gender. Why are we not progressing in terms of women moving forward towards equality when there has been so much progressive thinking in the political space, social justice space, as well as in the kind of feminism we have had in academia? Why are we actually not winning the battle of just regarding each other as equals?” 

Women hardest hit by COVID-19 lockdown

Advocate Sepanya-Mogale said the lockdown revealed the gender gap mostly through the significant impact it has had on South African women.

In 2020, 34% of the country’s workforce comprised women – a sharp decline of 9,8% from 43,8% in 2018.
“This decline is alarming and a clear indication of who becomes the first victims, but that is hardly talked about. A lot of women have experienced resistance from industries they had been serving diligently,” she said. She said women were often faced with the burden of integrating their work with increased care responsibilities for their children and sometimes also the elderly as primary caregivers. The double responsibility placed on women continues to re-enforce gender roles in our societies and further pushes away the success of closing the gap on gender equality prospects in our society.

Advocate Sepanya-Mogale said women were the hardest hit in most industries. In the beauty and tourism industry; air transportation; informal trading; and healthcare sector to name a few, women bore the brunt the most. “Women are the biggest employees on all economic levels in South Africa, especially the low-income and unskilled levels,” she said.
She said as the spread of the virus was likely to continue disrupting economic activity, all sectors of society needed to get involved and play their part.

“As disease outbreaks are not likely to disappear in the near future, proactive international action is required to not only save lives but to also protect economic prosperity. Academic institutions are authorities in terms of opening up new discussions, leading new debates, and putting critical issues at the centre of the table. Let us all do what we can so that we empower our people relevantly for the times we’re living in.”

News Archive

Academics should strive to work with students towards publishing, says NRF-rated researcher
2017-07-17

Description: Dr Rodwell Makombe Tags: National Research Foundation University of the Free State Qwaqwa Campus Department of English  

Dr Rodwell Makombe, Y-gegradeerde navorser.
Foto: Thabo Kessah


“The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a prestigious research institution and to be recognised by such an institution means that my work is worthwhile. This alone motivates me to do more research.” This is how Dr Rodwell Makombe reflected on his recent recognition as an NRF-rated researcher – one of the few on the Qwaqwa Campus. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of the Free State’s Qwaqwa Campus.

“This recognition is indeed an important milestone in my research career. It means that my efforts as a researcher are recognised and appreciated. The financial research incentive will enable me to engage in more research, attend conferences, and so forth,” he said.

Comparing research in the Humanities and Sciences

Dr Makombe’s research area is broadly postcolonial African literature, but he is particularly interested in postcolonial literatures and resistance cultures. He is currently working on a book project entitled Visual Cultures of the Afromontane.

When asked what he thought about Natural Sciences being in the lead as far as research is concerned, he said that this is mainly caused by funding opportunities.

“It means that my efforts as a
researcher are recognised and
appreciated.”

“It is easier to access funding for research in the Natural Sciences than for the Humanities. Researchers in the Humanities usually do research without any form of funding. However, there are also differences in the way research is done in the Sciences than in the Humanities. Science researchers tend to work together on different projects, which make it easier for them to have their names on publications, no matter how small their contribution. This is also connected to the issue of funding,” he added. 

He continued: “Since research in the Humanities is largely unfunded, it is difficult for researchers to establish research groups. Another issue is that most academics in the Humanities do not necessarily teach modules within their research interests. Therefore, they tend to be overloaded with work as they have to do research in one area and teach in another area.”

NRF-rating and funding

For Dr Makombe, the solution to this challenge lies in academics in the Humanities working towards publishing with their students. “This way,” he said, “both the students and the academics will get publications that will help them to get NRF-rating and other forms of research funding. Modules in the Humanities need to be aligned to academics’ research interests to avoid mismatches between teaching and research.” 

He previously worked at the University of Fort Hare and the Durban University of Technology and has published several articles in both local and international journals.

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept