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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

Predation Management Centre helps stock farmers to address predator problem
2017-03-29

Description: Predation Management Centre  Tags: Predation Management Centre

Predators, including caracal and foxes, are costing the
livestock industry about R2 billion annually. The
Predation Management Information Centre was
established to collect, analyse, and make information
available on predation and predation management to
stock and game farmers.
Photo: Pixabay

Predators are costing the livestock industry about R2 billion annually. To address the problem, the Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) teamed up with the Predation Management Forum (PMF).

Predation Management Information Centre established
The UFS has signed service agreements for the establishment of a Predation Management Information Centre with the four industries (wool, mohair, red meat, and game industries) forming part of the PMF. The centre will collect and analyse information on predation and predation management. This information will then be made available in a management information system and information contained in the system will be made available to all users.

Centre makes essential information available
At the information centre, a team of dedicated staff members handles calls and enquiries. Experts in the team are also available to provide advice to farmers. Furthermore, the centre is responsible for the management of information and resources. Relevant policy documents and scientific articles will be stored in an archive at the centre which will also collect research, statistics, biometric information, and information on new research topics.

The information that is collected will be used to assist farmers with predation management. Information on methods which are effective in a specific situation will be made available to farmers in order to help reduce predation on their farms. “By focusing on non-lethal methods in predation management, best practices can be compiled in order to restrict losses attributed to predation to the minimum,” says Quinette Kruger from the information centre.

Contact details for authorities and specialists managing damage-causing animals will also be provided by the centre.

The information centre invites stock farmers, game farmers, the general public, retail, authorities, and other stakeholders to contact the centre at +27 51 401 2210 or PredationMC@ufs.ac.za.

Read more about the ALPRU project.


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