The Star Early Edition

Gen­der ac­tivist slams ef­forts at equal­ity as SA drops glob­ally

- Luy­olo Mken­tane @luy­olomken­tane

RE­SPECTED gen­der ac­tivist Mbuyiselo Botha has crit­i­cised de­lib­er­ate ef­forts aimed at un­der­min­ing gen­der equal­ity in South Africa, fol­low­ing the re­lease of the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s (WEF) Global Gen­der Gap Re­port 2017.

South Africa fell four places to rank 19 out of 144 coun­tries, and be­came the third most gen­der equal coun­try in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, af­ter Rwanda and Namibia, which ranked 4 and 16 re­spec­tively.

The flag­ship in­dex showed that women in South Africa worked 444.6 min­utes a day, com­pared to the men’s 397.1mins.

It also showed that 56.1 per­cent of all un­paid South African work was un­der­taken by the fairer sex, com­pared to 25.9 per­cent un­der­taken by men.

Botha said the re­port, which showed that the coun­try has closed 76 per­cent of its gen­der gap, was in­dica­tive that poli­cies on their own were not enough to ad­dress the prob­lem.

South Africa also ranked 18 on po­lit­i­cal; 10 for women in Par­lia­ment; 9 for women in min­is­te­rial po­si­tions; and 89 on the eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion and op­por­tu­nity subindex. The coun­try ranked 114 out of 144 for wage equal­ity for sim­i­lar work done by both sexes.

Labour par­tic­i­pa­tion, where the coun­try achieved an over­all rank­ing of 73, showed only 50.9 per­cent of women were work­ing, com­pared to men’s 63.2 per­cent.

An unim­pressed Botha said South Africa had the best poli­cies on gen­der equal­ity, but lacked com­mit­ment and will to make sure they be­came alive.

“The point I’m mak­ing is we are known through­out the world as a coun­try with the best con­sti­tu­tion and pro­gres­sive gen­der leg­is­la­tion… But the JSE is still white and largely male. Our CEOs and boards are still white and pa­tri­ar­chal in their form,” he said.

Botha called on busi­nesses to un­der­stand women bet­ter and not use them to achieve quo­tas.

“Women are not be­ing given an op­por­tu­nity, largely be­cause of this per­cep­tion that a woman’s place is not in the board­room, it’s in the bed­room.”

Botha ar­gued that pol­icy and leg­is­la­tion on their own would achieve noth­ing. “There is a de­lib­er­ate ef­fort not to trans­form and bring women on board,” he said.

The re­port said: “Two coun­tries, Namibia and South Africa, score in the top 20 and have closed 78 per­cent to 76 per­cent of their gen­der gaps; and the re­gion fea­tures many of the low­est-ranked coun­tries in the in­dex, such as Mali and Chad, which have not yet closed 60 per­cent of their over­all gen­der gap.”

 ?? PHOTO: ZIPHOZONKE LUSHABA ?? Mbuyiselo Botha laments lack of fol­low-through on SA’s gen­der poli­cies.
PHOTO: ZIPHOZONKE LUSHABA Mbuyiselo Botha laments lack of fol­low-through on SA’s gen­der poli­cies.

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