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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

Dean of student affairs leaves the UFS after 29 years
2008-12-11

Prof. Teuns Verschoor (left), Acting Rector of the UFS, and Dr Luyt during his farewell function. Prof. Verschoor and Dr Luyt worked together in student affairs at the UFS for 26 years. Prof. Verschoor was Dean of Student Affairs before Dr Luyt took over the reigns from him.

Photo: Lacea Loader

 

The Dean of Student Affairs at the University of the Free State (UFS), Dr Natie Luyt, will be leaving the university after 29 years of service.

Dr Luyt decided to retire in order to spend more time with his wife, Ria, and his family. He will also be involved with his farm on a full-time basis.

“I have experienced a lot during my career and have learnt a lot from the staff and students at the UFS. There are students of exceptional quality at the university and it was a privilege to work with these young people. It was also a privilege to see the UFS grow to become the exceptional institution it is today,” Dr Luyt said during his farewell function this week.

Dr Luyt started working at the Department of Political Science of the UFS in 1980 and was appointed as Director of Student Affairs in 1997 and in 2005 as Dean of Student Affairs. During this time he was also closely involved with the Abraham Fischer Residence, where he was residence head since 1982.

Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Acting Rector of the UFS, said in his farewell message that the UFS has appreciation for Dr Luyt’s decades of service. “Dr Luyt had a meaningful life at the UFS. We have appreciation for his ability to deal with difficult cases and for his kind heart where student affairs are concerned. He will be remembered for the way in which he always knew what went on in the residences and that he always put the needs of students first,” said Prof. Verschoor.

Dr Choice Makhetha, Deputy Dean of Student Affairs at the UFS, will act as dean until the post is filled.
 

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader 
                Assistant Director: Media Liaison 
                Tel: 051 401 2584 
                Cell: 083 645 2454 
                E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
11 December 2008

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