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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

Curriculum of UFS School of Management best in South Africa
2010-09-17

 Prof. Helena van Zyl

The School of Management at the University of the Free State (UFS)’s curriculum has been rated in the September 2010 edition of the Financial Mail as the best in South Africa for the second successive year. According to Prof. Helena van Zyl, Director of the School of Management, this rating was done by the school’s MBA students and alumni after the Financial Mail had used an independent company to do a survey about business schools in South Africa.

Apart from its curriculum, from the group of 14 accredited business schools in South Africa, the UFS’s School of Management was also rated by its students and alumni as one of the top three schools in terms of the quality of its lecturers (first position), the degree to which the students enjoyed the course (third position) and the value for money that the school offers (third position).

“This positive rating means that we have clients that are really satisfied with our service, and that is important to us. Our students and alumni feel that we add value, that we empower them, and that we open worlds for them,” said Prof. Van Zyl.

“In this environment where business schools are very competitive, it is an important message to send out that students and alumni are satisfied. It influences prospective MBA students’ choice of a future institution where they would want to study.

“The fact that the UFS’s School of Management has received such a good evaluation, even though we are situated in the centre of South Africa and not in a commercial hub like Johannesburg or Pretoria, is a great privilege for us. Also, if the quality of the programme is taken into account, our MBA programme is very affordable and really offers value for money,” said Prof. Van Zyl.

The School of Management, which is the flagship of the Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences at the UFS, affords this faculty a specific position in corporate South Africa.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
17 September 2010
 

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