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Gender inequality in the workplace is ever-present and is still affecting a significant number of women in South Africa.

This, despite countless attempts and immeasurable effort made by women and human rights activists to bring balance between genders in the workplace.

Gender Inequality in the Workplace in South Africa

Many believe that gender inequality or discrimination does not exist as it often flies under the radar and is loosely disguised as “normal procedure”.

But the unfortunate truth is that women around the world are faced with many hurdles that hold them back from advancing in their careers. In some cases, women are even denied positions they are qualified for, simply based on their biological ability to give birth.

Are Men and Women Equal?

The question is not really if men and women are equal, but rather, do men view women as equal?

Unsurprisingly, men and women have conflicting views about their equality, where men don’t feel that there is much of a gap in equal treatment and opportunities between men and women.

The most likely reason for this is that men are not subjected to the same amount of discrimination in the workplace as women are.

To put this into perspective, almost 40% of South African women have said that their gender has negatively impacted them in the workplace. The same is true for only 17% of men.

Gender Pay Gap in South Africa

Sadly, women are still victims of unequal pay for work of equal value while 84% of working mothers have listed themselves as the primary caretakers of their children. On average, women are earning 28% less than their male counterparts.

To rub the proverbial salt into the wound, single mothers have the responsibility of raising their children with little help from the fathers. They do this while working, earning less and facing other forms of workplace discrimination, and there is not much legislation in place to mitigate this.

Perhaps this is why women are more likely to prioritise money over job fulfilment, while the opposite is true for men.

Gender Discrimination in the Workplace South Africa

Gender discrimination in the workplace shows up in various forms and is a result of unfair treatment on the basis of a person’s gender. The result of discrimination is inequality and we can gain a better understanding of this when we look at the work-parent relationship.

In South Africa, the following statistics are true for women having access to maternity leave:

  • 38% of women are given only 1-3 months maternity leave
  • 36% of women are given 3-6 months maternity leave
  • Only 18% of these women receive full pay during this period
  • 28% of these women receive less than half their pay
  • A shocking 39% of these women receive no pay at all during this period

In addition, almost half of working mothers rely solely on their 3 days annual family responsibility leave to look after their sick children and almost 20% take annual or sick leave for the same purpose.

What’s more shocking is that only 7% of these women said that their partner willingly steps in to help with a sick child.

This is evidence of how gender discrimination and inequality is systemic to its core.

How to we Bring Harmony to Inequality in the Workplace?

Gender inequality and discrimination in the workplace mostly affects women, but this is not only a woman’s war.

In order to completely dismantle unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace, organisations need to acknowledge that it exists before making the necessary changes to their policies, with immediate urgency and effect.

In addition, when male colleagues see unfair treatment taking place, they should feel the weight of their responsibility to speak up against such practices.

As the human rights activist Ginetta Sagan once said: “silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.”

Nazerit Wilson – Female Authors in South Africa

Women are subjected to layers upon layers of discrimination and inequality in almost every sphere of their lives, workplace included. When discrimination is systemic, it is hidden under the guise of “normal” or even worse, “acceptable”.

As women, our voices often go unheard, drowned out by the deafening sounds of patriarchy and male dominance. But the time has come to change the course of history and for women to step into their power once again by fighting the very system that oppresses us.

As a female author in South Africa who has experienced various forms of oppression and discrimination throughout my life, I feel compelled to write about these injustices, to bring awareness to a matter that is very dear to my heart.

Have you been subjected to unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace, simply based on your gender? Please contact me to tell me more, I would love to hear from you.