By Sinazo Mkoko
The findings of the Gender Series Volume IX: Women Empowerment, 2017 to 2022 report were released by Statistician-General of South Africa, Risenga Maluleke, last week.
The report contains indicators on trends and patterns related to women empowerment, including an in-depth analysis of economic, social, and political domains related to gender. The report aimed to determine if there are gender differences and to analyse progress towards gender equality in South Africa.
Amongst the key findings, the report showed that while women empowerment is central to the global development agenda and is a stepping stone to gender equality, “women in South Africa are more likely to be unemployed than men and are less likely to participate in the labour market than their male counterparts.”
Stats SA stated: “The working-age population in South Africa was estimated to have increased by 2,9 million from 37,1 million in 2017 to 40 million in 2022. Despite the number of females in the working-age population exceeding males, their participation rates in the labour force remained lower at 50,7% in 2022 compared to 63,2% for males.”
The report also showed that from 2004 to 2019, the country saw an increase in the proportion of seats held by women in parliament, from 33,0% in 2004 to 46,0% in 2019. “However, a regress was observed in premier positions from a peak of 55,0% in 2009, decreasing to 22,0% in 2014 and 2019 respectively.”
Stats SA said achieving gender equity in positions of decision-making – both in government and in the private sector – is crucial to providing females with responsibilities for planning, making decisions, recommending policies, and coordinating empowerment efforts.
Another finding that was highlighted in the report, is how the presence of children in the household affects the economic inactivity of females more than males.
“Generally, inactivity rates increased from 39,5% in 2017 to 43,1 in 2022; the effect was negligible for males with no children in the household but significant for those residing with 5 or more children. The gender parity ratio between females and males who were not living with children was 1,51 in 2022. This shows that regardless of children in the household, females were more likely to be economically inactive. The highest rates of inactivity were reported among those who lived with 5 or more children, this applied to both sexes.
The report highlighted that between 2017 and 2022 there are still gender disparities despite the progressive laws and interventions aimed at women empowerment.
Stats SA added: “Empowerment of women is core to South Africa’s processes of sustainable development. Leaving no one behind means addressing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequalities. The report explored social empowerment from the perceptions of social gender norms to ascertain gender equality and understand the progress made in the public and private sectors in adhering to the Employment Equity Act.”
For more information, download the full report here.