The national lockdown pulled the curtain back on a number of systemic problems in South Africa, including gender-based violence and gender inequality.
Gender inequality doesn’t just exist within the social sphere, but across all sectors, including the economy.
In congress with the rest of the world, women in South Africa fall victim to the gender wage gap.
The gender wage gap is, at its simplest, the difference between the average wages of men and women.
The Daily Maverick unpacked two available waves of National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) data which aims to inform policy using rapid reliable research on income, employment, and welfare in South Africa, in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Using that data they tracked the financial effect of the lockdown on women, and the gender wage gap, which has been widening since the pandemic took hold.
Recent estimates of the wage gap in South Africa, before the lockdown, showed that for every R100 the average man earns, the average woman earns between R65 and R84.
When the pandemic hit home, women made up roughly two-thirds (67%) of job losses during the hard lockdown.
The gap appears to be widening, with data collected between February and July showing a significant decrease in what women earn versus what men earn, especially in lower-income brackets.
For every R100 earned by the average man for a given hour of work, the average woman earned R70 before lockdown in February and R66 in June – indicative of a deepening gender wage gap.
Of course, wages vary by a number of different factors, such as occupation, area and province of residence, highest education level and marital status. After taking these factors into account, we still find evidence that the average gender wage gap was 46% – 73% higher in June 2020 than its pre-lockdown level.
While some statistical data suggest that the wage gap is closing between men and women in higher income brackets, when we take into account employment that pays by the hour, things look a little different.
Reports reveal a significant change between February and June across the entire economic spectrum.
Women, and in particular women who make up the poorest third of the wage distribution scale, have decreased their working hours, with gender inequality in the private, or domestic space at the root of the problem. Due to school closures, they took on the bulk of additional childcare and domestic responsibilities.
For millions of women, working from home meant simultaneously taking care of children, cooking, and cleaning. Data suggests that women also tend to be more likely to take unpaid leave to take care of their kids, while men tend to take on less of the reproductive labour overall.
Across the globe, women earn less, save less, hold fewer secure jobs, and are more likely to be employed in the informal sector.
A look at the average wages received by domestic workers, who make up one of South Africa’s largest employment sectors in South Africa, is evidence of this.
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