UNEQUAL: Many women still earn less than men for the same work, says the writer.
JOHANNESBURG - 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.

Also read: How South Africa ranks in the Global Gender Gap report

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.

Have you read: Retrogressive SA in top 20 of Africa's gender equal lands

“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.”

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- BUSINESS REPORT