While legislation has been passed to push for more employment of women in the workplace, it appears South Africa is lagging when compared to its counterparts.
This is according to Sean Jones, CEO of Artisan Training Institute (ATI), who says: “The bottom line is that the deadline for countries to reach the millennium development goals set by the United Nations ended on 31 December 2015 – and the majority of women in South Africa are still not gaining in terms of job placements in the economy.”
He adds that at least 30% of the artisans being trained at ATI are women.
“Our clients are really pushing to accept, and train, more female artisans in what was traditionally, a highly occupationally segregated environment. The benefits employers are experiencing include the skills net is being widened, coupled with women performing well in the engineering trades. We are finding that more women are graduating as electricians, fitters and turners, and measurement, control and instrumentation technicians – and hope to expand this into other artisan disciplines, such as diesel mechanics, boiler makers, and auto electricians.”
In terms of the United Nation’s legislative push, eight of the goals, which focus on global issues such as health and education, were adopted in 2000 by 189 countries. The deadline was set as 31 December 2015.
The United Nations standpoint focuses on promoting gender equality and empowering women, including goals such as an equal enrolment ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions – as well as equal levels of literacy across genders, thereby merging women increasingly into the economy.
Jones pointe out that South Africa is lagging when compared to other countries, but the upside is that the country is “more or less on track” to achieve the goals laid out by the United Nations – albeit it late.
One of the primary objectives of the ILO is to see the equal representation of women in traditionally segregated work environments from company boards, to the shop floor. Critically, this representation should include remuneration, equal to that received by male counterparts.
“We also need to promote women into the artisan industry. There will be a shortage in South Africa when the global economy emerges from the current doldrums – and training women could alleviate part of this worrying shortfall,” says Jones.
“Unfortunately, artisan training has seen a sharp decline in the last 24 months as a result of contractions in the mining, engineering and agricultural sectors – with companies experiencing cash flow and budget constraints. This is something we, as a nation, need to seriously look at in order to be competitive in the global market space.”
Speaking to the press, the Commission for Gender Equality’s spokesperson, Javu Baloyi, explained that although South Africa increased the representation of women in Parliament from 3% in 1994 to 44% in 2009, “more women are needed in ¬¨positions of authority in various committees of Parliament, such as speakers, deputy ministers, ministers and presidents that will translate into reality to women on the ground”.
Baloyi went on to say that South Africa cannot achieve complete gender equality because a large proportion of women – especially those in the rural areas – do not have access to reproductive health services. On top of this, the government is slow in dealing with gender-based violence.
According to a newspaper report, the development goals aimed at promoting gender equality and empowering women includes targets such as an equal enrolment ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions as well as equal levels of literacy across genders. South Africa is on track to achieve these.
Another focus is the employment of men and women in a 50/50 ratio – including the fact that both genders should enjoy similar levels of employment.
According to the Mail & Guardian, the share of women in the non-agricultural employment sector has increased from 43% in 1996 to 45% in 2012 – which is the latest available figure – and 77% of women earned the same amount as men, according to 2010 figures from Statistics South Africa.
This does demonstrate, there has been significant progress since 1994.