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Celebrating Women Means Recognising Their Valuable Contributions

2 min read


It’s challenging to write about celebrating women in a context where, at best, our contributions are overlooked and, at worst, our dignity and safety are at stake. The kinds of challenges which befall the average South African woman are some of the most difficult challenges known to mankind. 

But we’re talking about women here, and women are a force to be reckoned with. 


Women are the powerhouse of the South African economy


Despite the numerous challenges which threaten to slow our progress, women continue to shatter glass ceilings and societal expectations. Our women show indomitable strength of spirit – that much is clear from the history books. But, talk is cheap. The celebration of South African women should be a verb, not a noun! Celebrating women means recognising their valuable contributions to society.

According to the 2020 Flux Trends Report, women contribute over 48% to South Africa’s GDP despite earning 27% less than men. That means that women carry nearly one-half of the country’s goods and services, and they’re being paid a third less than men to do it!


Enduring disparities in educational and employment opportunities


The pay gap is not the only pothole that Saffa women have to contend with while striving to make inroads to building successful careers. According to
this 2021 government report, one of the most significant challenges faced by women in this country is unequal access to education opportunities.

In the first quarter of 2021, more than four in every ten young women were not in employment, education, or training of some kind. Women in this group were much more likely to report “family commitment” as a reason for not attending school than men in the same category. 

And yet, they prevail. Women are heading households, dominating the economy, and overturning centuries of patriarchal rule with every baby bathed, every invoice filed, and every new business idea carefully nurtured into a successful venture. 

Another impossible feat to admire is the fact that the household and care work performed by women accounts for 53% of the GDP. So, not only are South African women shattering glass ceilings – they’re cleaning up the mess left behind, too. Two things are clear: women are a formidable economic force, and they’re acing a double load of professional and domestic responsibilities.


Womentrepreneurs: how women are leading contributors to the economy


In areas both professional and domestic, women are working twice as hard as men for two-thirds of the pay and almost no recognition. While we can’t ignore the disheartening reality that these stats reflect, we also have to admit: that’s pretty badass.

Despite the pay gap, education inequality, and the fact that they are bearing the brunt of housework and care labour, women are not just active members of the economy. They’re leading it. According to the Veuve Clicquot 2020 Barometer, South Africa boasts high numbers of entrepreneurial women. More than 50% of South African women identify as entrepreneurs, firmly establishing them as leaders of their own companies as well as their own households.


Conclusion


We can’t really speak about celebrating women in South Africa without acknowledging the significant obstacles that lie in our path to real empowerment. However, truly celebrating women starts with recognising the valuable contributions that they have made and continue to make to the local economy, their communities, and their homes despite the obstacles in our way.

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