SA gender equality improves

2010-08-03 12:02

There has been an improvement in socio-economic equality between men and women in South Africa, the latest MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement shows.

Released today, the index saw South Africa’s score increase by almost six points from 87.96 to 93.5 between 2009 and 2010.

This signified increasing equality between men and women as measured according to four key indicators, which were meant to reflect how close or far women in South Africa were to achieving socio-economic parity with their male counterparts.

Two of the indicators were based on source data from national statistics bureaux and showed the ratio of female to male participation in the labour force and tertiary education.

The remaining two indicators were based on survey data and measured the ratio of female to male respondent perceptions of whether they held managerial positions at work and earned above median income.

A score below 100 indicated gender inequality in favour of males while a score above 100 indicated inequality in favour of women.

A score of 100 indicated equality between the sexes.

The indicator relating to labour force participation increased from 75.45 in last year to 75.85, the indicator relating to the incidence of management positions increased 11 points to 75.04, and the indicator relating to above median income increased nine points from 82.22 to 91.12, during the same period.

Anthony West, senior vice president and general manager Africa: MasterCard Worldwide, said: “While these three scores indicate that women still feel an overall sense of inequality to their male counterparts, it does show that more women are participating in the labour force, perceiving themselves as holding managerial positions and earning above median incomes compared to the previous year.”

On the other side of the scale, the indicator that measured Tertiary Education Enrolment rates showed that a higher proportion of women were enrolling for tertiary education than men (131.98), with the number of women per 100 men growing consistently since 2007.

Erika van der Merwe, an independent economist, said: “The Index gains over the past year are encouraging and wipe out the deterioration seen in 2009. Nevertheless, female labour force participation rates are still lower than those for men.”

Perhaps more troubling was that noticeably fewer women than men reported that they held managerial positions, she added.

Looking further afield at Africa, additional markets including Kenya, Nigeria and Morocco were included in the survey for the first time – making it possible to start drawing comparisons between South Africa, these countries and the region.

The overall index score for the Africa region was 92.36, signifying women across Africa were feeling just slightly less empowered compared to men.

South Africa was marginally ahead of the overall regional score by one point, and scored well above the regional average figures for both labour force participation (62.66) and tertiary education enrolment (105.33).

However, in terms of both incidences of management positions and above median income, South Africa scored lower than the regional figures of 102.04 and 99.41 respectively.

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