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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

Armentum and Emily take honours in first combined SingOff attempt
2017-08-24

Description: SingOff Tags: McDonald's SingOff, Emily Hobhouse, Armentum, Villa Bravado, Harmony, Soetdoring, Vishuis 

Emily and Armentum were crowned as best combined group,
and were also the overall winners of the 2017 McDonald's
SingOff finals.  Photo: Johan Roux


A few months before the McDonald's SingOff finals, they almost didn’t have a group. But on 19 August 2017, Emily Hobhouse and Armentum were the big winners in the Kovsie Church.
In the second annual SingOff – with many new additions – combined serenade groups could take part for the first time. Emily and Armentum were crowned best combined group, and were the overall winners. Armentum followed up their 2016 performance when they won their first ever serenade competition as best male residence.
According to Tato Mpeteng, RC Arts and Culture of Armentum, the praise must go to Zoë Adonis. “She is a Music student and the RC Arts and Culture of Emily. She was our coach. She didn’t ask for any fee, and we put her under a lot of stress. She sacrificed a lot,” he says.

“We almost didn’t have a SingOff group two months ago, because we didn’t have participants.”
Villa Bravado was the best male residence and finished second overall, while Kagiso was second in the combined group category. Harmony took the honours as best female group, with Soetdoring the runners-up. Vishuis was the second-best male residence. 

Click here for a highlights video of the 2017 McDonald’s Bloemfontein SingOff Competition.
Click here to watch all the performances from this year’s SingOff Competition finals. 

SingOff 2017 results: 

Best social media campaign: Arista and Khayalami 
Best McDonald’s promo: Kagiso 
Best costume design: Harmony 
Best male soloist: Katlego (Villa Bravado) 
Best female soloist: Luthando (Emily Hobhouse) 
Most entertaining show: Villa Bravado 

Male 
Best prescribed song: Villa Bravado 
Best own composition: Vishuis 
Second place: Vishuis 
First place: Villa Bravado 

Female
Best prescribed song: Harmony 
Best own composition: Harmony 
Second place: Soetdoring 
First place: Harmony 

Combined groups
Best prescribed song: Emily and Armentum 
Best own composition: Emily and Armentum 
Second place: Kagiso 
First place: Emily and Armentum 

Overall 
Second place: Villa Bravado 
First place: Emily and Armentum

 

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