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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

UFS salary model makes salary adjustment of 16,13% possible
2008-12-11

Staff from the University of the Free State (UFS) will receive a salary adjustment of 16,13% for 2009. This adjustment is 2,78% higher than the 13,35% that was agreed by the management and unions last month.

The UFS has received the actual state subsidy for 2009 from the Department of Education. The amount is significantly higher than previously calculated as a result of a once-off inflationary adjustment that was made.

“The good news is that, as a result of the application of our Multi-Year, Income-Related Remuneration Improvement Model, this increased subsidy can be passed on to staff members in full,” said Mr Lourens Geyer, Director of Human Resources at the UFS.

“We are grateful that we can pass on this favourable salary adjustment to UFS staff members. This adjustment makes our remuneration packages more competitive with those of other universities, and also facilitates the retention of skilled personnel. We have experienced an exceptionally challenging and difficult 2008. For this reason, we are grateful that we are able to compensate staff members for their hard work and loyal support in a special way by granting this excellent salary adjustment,” said Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Acting Rector of the UFS.

The implementation date for the salary adjustment is 1 January 2009. The adjustment will be calculated on the total remuneration package.
 

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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