A new study shows that South African women are forging ahead in areas like electoral representation, home ownership and education, but still falling behind when it comes to employment opportunities.
The South African Institute of Race Relations has released its August Fast Facts, which shows that the provinces with the highest proportion of female-headed houses are the Eastern Cape (51,2%), Limpopo (49,4%) and KwaZulu Natal (47,4%).
In terms of household tenure, across all race groups, more females than males live in households that they own and have fully paid off. In particular, 65,9% of black females have households which are owned and fully paid off compared to 46,9% of black men.
In education women are leading the pack. Females account for 51,35% of the population aged 20 and older who have completed grade 12, and 52,9% of the population aged 20 and older who have completed post-school education.
However, female involvement in the labour market is low. The female labour market participation rate is 51,7% whereas the male labour market participation rate stands at 69,5%.
In addition, employment in management remains skewed in favour of men, with only 21,5% of females holding positions in top management, for instance.
Electorally it would seem women have a dominant voice in South Africa’s politics, with 54,9% of registered voters being female.
Although South Africa has never had a female president, it has one of the highest representation rates of women within parliament: 41,7% of South Africa’s MPs are women compared to 15,8% in Botswana, 17,4% in Ghana and 12% in Nigeria.
It is not only relative to African counterparts that South Africa fares well in terms of electoral representation: in Australia, the proportion of female MPs stands at 24,1%, Germany is t 33,3% and the UK at 30,8%.
As victims of crime, adult females (54%) and children (39%) tend to be victims of sexual offences whereas adult males more often are disproportionately victims of murder (82%) and serious assault (65%).
Since 1995 to the present, less than 3% of the prison population has been female.
IRR research analyst, Unathi Matwasa, comments: “While progress can be seen, there is a need for a further upturn in the socio-economic status of women in South Africa. Accordingly, policy focus should be aimed at a more inclusive economy, including the safety and security of women.”