This article was originally written for The Citizen
By Chisom Jenniffer Okoye
Movements for women rights expressed their displeasure with the findings of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) wage report’s 2018-19 statistics that stated women in South Africa are paid 19.4% less than men on hourly wages.
The ILO reported: “Looking at all the different estimates, one conclusion is that, on average, women are paid approximately 20% less than men across the world.”
Although one could argue that South Africa is below the world average, the gap is still prevalent.
Sonke Gender Justice Regional Campaigns and Advocacy Specialist Mpiwa Mangwiro said it was unfortunate that women in the workspace were still lagging behind in leadership and management positions, which continued to be dominated by their male counterparts.
She said: “This puts women at a disadvantage economically, and forces many women to depend on their partners. Economic dependence has remained one of the reasons why women in abusive relationships struggle to break free of the cycle of violence.”
She also explained that the coined term “mothering penality” was a challenge women had to face within the South African context. Here mothers were remunerated less and perceived to be less competent than their male counterparts.
“Women when on maternity leave receive less remuneration and even upon their return have to work twice as hard to prove themselves.
“Mothers are often not considered for promotion or management positions as they are seen as less dependable due to their mothering duties, which not only perpetuates the structural violence women face in the work place but also increases the wage gap faced by the country.”
Women Legal Centre communications specialist Aisha Hamdulay said: “This is a symptom of how our society still largely functions – on patriarchal norms and standards. And when women speak speak out, they are at risk of being further victimised and stigmatised.”
She said despite transformation in the workplace, the reality is still different.