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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 students should register like this
2004-12-15

Student activities on the main campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) will start next year when first-time entering first-year students will be welcomed by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof Frederick Fourie, on 15 January at 11:00 in the Callie Human Centre on campus.

“The registration process will start on 17 January 2005 when first-time entering first-year students, who applied for admission before 30 November 2005, will start registering. These students may register until 21 January 2005 according to a programme,” said Mr Vernon Collett, Registrar: Academic Student Services at the UFS.

Senior undergraduate students may register from 22-29 January 2005 and postgraduate students, first-time entering first-year students and other students who applied for admission after 30 November 2004 until 15 January 2005, may register from 31 January- 4 February 2005 according to a programme.

According to Mr Collett postgraduate students who applied for admission from 15 January- 11 February 2005, may register according to a programme from 7-11 February 2005. Students who want to change their field of study or want to amend their modules, may do it during this period.

“To ensure an orderly registration process, strict adherence to the registration programme will be maintained,” said Mr Collett.

Applications for the Career Preparation Programme (CPP) close on 21 January 2005 en those for upgrading courses in Education, will close on 2 February 2005.

“Pipeline students from Vista must register on the UFS’s Vista campus on the dates already mentioned and first-year students from Vista must register on the UFS’s main campus,” said Mr Collett.

All registrations will take place daily from 08:00 in the Callie Human Centre on the main campus.

According to Mr Collett a variety of services will be available to students in the Callie Human Centre during the registration – among others advice on bursaries, loans, staff and council bursaries, enquiries for international students, information on class and room tables, student cards, vehicle permits etc.

At the Qwaqwa campus all first-time entering first-year students must report on 17 January 2005, after which the registration of these students will take place according to a specific programme. Application for admission to this campus close on 1 February 2005. First-time entering first-year students will be welcomed by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof Frederick Fourie, on 22 January 2005 at 11:00 in the Nelson Mandela Hall on campus.

Lectures at the UFS’s main campus as well as the Vista- and Qwaqwa-campusses will commence on 31 January 2005.

Prospective students who want to apply or who have any enquiries can call (051) 401-3000 or visit the UFS web site late in December 2004 at www.uovs.ac.za.

A complete registration programme for first-time entering first-year students who registered before 30 November 2004 will appear in Volksblad of 29 Desember 2004.

      Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
15 December 2004

 

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