As the globe commemorated International Women’s Day yesterday, unions expressed their disappointment that South Africa’s gender pay gap still persists.
International Women’s Day is commemorated annually to honour the achievement of women and continue to empower them.
United Association of SA (UASA) said the gender pay gap persists in South Africa and elsewhere and it was disappointing.
“South Africa has countless female-headed households with women working hard to make ends meet and ensure a better life for their children. The gender pay gap stands in the way of many who struggle to realise their dreams for their offspring. The gender pay gap represents a real stumbling block in the way of a more successful country,” said UASA spokesperson Abigail Moyo.
According to UASA, South Africa had a stagnant median gender pay gap of between 23% and 35%, despite various pieces of legislation aimed at preventing gender discrimination in the workplace, and the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the projected time to close the pay gap from 99,5 years to 135,6 years.
“These numbers show that while women have come a long way in establishing equality in society and work environments, there is still a long road ahead,” Moyo said.
The union urged trade unions to be the voice of all women who are not compensated fairly for equal work and to eliminate the factors contributing to the gender pay gap.
The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) called for gender pay transparency by all employers as the world marked yet another International Women’s Day.
“In South Africa, women earn up to 35% less than men for doing work of equal value yet nearly 38% of households are dependent on the income that a woman brings home. Even highly educated and qualified middle-class women, especially those working in the private sector, are still finding it difficult to escape gender pay disparity as the old boys’ network still favours their male counterparts,” the federation said.
Fedusa said it finds it sad that as the world celebrates yet another International Women’s Day milestone, there are still people who dare ask whether a woman should get paid the same wages as a man for the same kind of work.
“The union federation believes that there can never be different answers to this question. If the woman and the man perform work of equal value under the same employer, then natural justice requires that they be paid equal wages. To deny her this is to deny her humanity,” the federation said.
Fedusa added that without gender equality today, a sustainable future and an equal future remains beyond the country’s reach.