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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

Art collection reflects values of SA Bill of Rights
2017-09-14

Description: Zanele Muholi Art Exibition Tags: Zanele Muholi Art Exibition 

One of the photos that are on exhibition at the
Johannes Stegmann Gallery.
Photo: Supplied

Our human rights are enshrined in the constitution. This is exactly what the Art of Human Rights collection reflects, as it responds to the values and ideals instilled in the South African Bill of Rights.

This collection is currently on display at the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery at the University of the Free State (UFS). The exhibition opened on 23 August and will run until 23 September 2017.

Work of renowned artists and poets on display
The collection features renowned artists and poets such as Virginia Mckenny, Busiswa Gqulu, Andries Botha, Kobus Moolman, and many more. There are also articles from prominent South Africans such as the late Ahmed Kathrada, Mike van Graan, Justice Edward Cameron, and former UFS Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen.

Collection engages 27 clauses in Bill of Rights
The Art of Human Rights is a print portfolio which is an initiative of Art for Humanity (AFH). It is a non-profit organisation, based in Durban, which engages with cultural production, specifically in the visual arts, to promote human rights awareness regionally and globally.

Twenty-nine South African artists and 27 poets have created artwork for the collection. They engaged with the 27 clauses of the Bill of Rights by looking at socio-economic issues which is still prevalent in the democratic diaspora of SA. The collection addresses issues such as racism, poverty, poor education, and lack to efficient health care. These are all threats to our young democracy.

Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery hours (Bloemfontein Campus): Monday to Friday 08:30–16:30

Description: Andries Botha Art exibition Tags: Andries Botha Art exibition

 

 

 

 

 

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