ALTHOUGH South Africa has made great strides in gender equality, we are still below the 50 per cent mark for positions that come with influence according to Statistics South Africa’s latest report.
This comes 61 years after more than 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 to protest against the apartheid government’s pass laws.
Despite women making up over half the population, they remain relatively unrepresented in positions of authority and power. Gender equality is a founding principles of the Constitution of South Africa. The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill calls for 50 per cent representation in decision-making positions.
There are more women than men in South Africa. This simply means that for every 1 000 people in South Africa, 511 are women and 489 are men which is 51 per cent of the total population.
Workforce considered, 44 in every 100 employed individuals are women, according to labour data released for the second quarter of 2017. Women fill 44 per cent of skilled posts, which includes managers, professionals and technicians. This figure hasn’t shifted for 15 years because it was 44 per cent in September 2002.
According to data from 2014, women comprised 32 per cent of Supreme Court of Appeal judges, 31 per cent of advocates, 30 per cent of ambassadors and 24 per cent of heads of state-owned enterprises. Perhaps more startling is that, out of all the top 40 JSE listed companies, only one had a female CEO.
Parliament has done better in this regard as South Africa is ranked as the 10th country in the world with the most number of females in parliament, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, with just over four in every 10 benches held by a women.
When it comes to city and town councils the struggle for women remain real. In 2016, only 39 per cent which means 107 of the 276 municipalities with a sitting mayor had female mayor, a step back from the 42 per cent recorded in 2011.
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