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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

SRC Reunion - 2005
2004-12-02

Dear Ex-SRC Member
Reunion 2005


The University of the Free State (UFS) is celebrating it centenary with the theme 100+. This celebration does not only focus on the past, but especially on the future for the next 100 years. The conclusion of the Centenary year will be held on 28 January 2005 together with Kovsie Day, a joint project with the UFS Centenary Festival, Student Representative Council and Rag, and includes a huge “Potjiekos” Festival. This closing function is, however, the beginning of the future festival which reaches its climax from 4–6 February 2005. During the weekend, an SRC Reunion will be held to which all ex-SRC members are personally invited.

The weekend program briefly includes the following:

Friday, 4 February 2004

09:00 Official opening of the University with a message by the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, prof. Frederick Fourie

11:00 A massive campus photo of all on campus

19:00 Through the night together with Rag.

Saturday, 5 February 2004

08:30 Champagne breakfast at the Thakaneng Bridge

10:00 Official attendance of the Rag Procession

19:00 SRC Dinner at the Centenary Festival Complex

Sunday, 6 February 2005

18:30 A special combined Dedication service at the Red Square (Rooiplein).

It will be a great privilege for the UFS to welcome all SRC members of the past 100 years. RSVP no later than 14 January 2005 to Nicolaas du Plessis. The costs will be indicated on the RSVP form.

N.B.: The UFS would be pleased to reach all ex-members. Should you be in contact with any other members, please send this information to them or contact me at the necessary contact numbers. For more information please contact me at 084 955 0875 or Elize Rall at 051-401 3382.

Please fax the RSVP form no later than 14 January 2004 to Nicolaas du Plessis at 051-447 7344 of e-mail information to: duplessisnf.rd@mail.uovs.ac.za

Nicolaas du Plessis

SRC Officer

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