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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

National Astronomy Symposium at Boyden
2006-08-29

The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA) will hold its 7th National Symposium at the Boyden Observatory, Bloemfontein from 28 - 30 September 2006.

The event is being organised by the Bloemfontein branch of ASSA in association with Boyden Observatory, which is linked to the Department of Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Registration is open to the public. The symposium affords interested persons the rare opportunity to get behind the scenes of Southern African astronomy and to attend presentations by speakers such as Prof. Phil Charles (SAAO),  Dr. Adrian Tiplady (SKA/KAT),  Dr. Patrick Seitzer (University of Michigan, USA), Prof. David Block (WITS) and Tim Cooper (ASSA).

60-inch UFS Boyden reflector telescope. Photo: Hannes Calitz

An exciting program awaits participants. Various demonstrations and presentations relating to some of the latest developments in amateur astronomy will be presented.

The Symposium will include an "astronomy presentation workshop" where a national astronomy presentation competition will be launched.

A special tour of the facilities at the Boyden Observatory will take place on Thursday evening, 28 September, and participants can see astrophysical research in action when they are shown one of the three large operational optical telescopes in Africa.

Join professional and amateur astronomers from all over the country on Friday evening, 29 September, for a memorable dinner to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Friends of Boyden, to be held at Kopano Nokeng Lodge.

Bloemfonteiners are especially encouraged to make use of this unique opportunity.

 For more information and a registration form visit:

Web: www.assabfn.co.za/symposium2006


 

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