September 01, 2012
Despite marginal year-on-year increase since 2010, gender inequality remains prevalent in the South African workplace
Johannesburg, 1 September 2012 – The results of the latest MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement show that the socioeconomic status of South African women in the workplace in comparison to that of men has slowly improved over the past two years.
The overall Index score of 74.7 for 2012 is modestly higher than the outcome of 74.4 reported for 2011, and 74.0 in 2010. However, the score of 74.7 means that South African women are still not equal to men in the workplace, in spite of marginal progress.
Philip Panaino, division president, MasterCard Worldwide, South Africa says, “The research paints an interesting picture of the socio-economic status of women across South Africa. While there are still significant inequalities between men and women, it is encouraging to see that the overall index score has improved year-on-year since 2010, signifying increasing socio-economic equality between men and women.”
The MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement is part of a sustained effort by MasterCard to measure the socioeconomic level of women in relation to men, across Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Each indicator measures the ratio of women to every 100 men in the 24 markets covered by the research. The Index comprises five indicators: Business Ownership, Business & Government Leadership, Workforce Participation, Regular Employment Opportunities and Tertiary Education.
Scores are indexed to 100 to indicate how close or how far women in each market are to achieving socio-economic parity with men. A score under 100 indicates gender inequality in favour of males, while a score above 100 indicates inequality in favour of females. A score of 100 indicates equality between the sexes. The Index and its accompanying reports do not represent MasterCard financial performance.
The findings for the five indicators are mixed. Two indicators show a superior reading in favour of women, namely the Tertiary Education indicator which shows a significantly superior reading, and the Regular Employment Opportunity indicator, which shows a marginally superior reading. The remaining three indicators reflect considerable levels of women’s inequality to men in the workplace.
Independent economist Dr. Roelof Botha says that South Africa’s score for gender inequality in 2011, as measured by the Gender Inequality Index (GII) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is slightly better than the global average. South Africa scores 0.490 on this index with the global average being 0.492, where a score of 0 indicates equality between men and women.
“In terms of the GII, only four countries (Rwanda, Burundi, Namibia and Mauritius) in sub-Saharan Africa have a lower level of gender inequality than South Africa,” Botha says. “It is encouraging to see the formal steps taken by the South African government to reduce gender inequality in the country; most recently, the Cabinet’s approval of the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill.”
Botha adds that the Bill is an important step in taking the issue of gender equality to a higher level through the concept of gender mainstreaming. “This has been established as a major global strategy for the promotion of gender equality by the United Nations and entails bringing the perceptions, experience, knowledge and interests of women and men to bear on policy-making, planning and decision-making,” he says.
Asia/Pacific - Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Middle East - Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. Africa - Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of this year’s findings is from the Tertiary Education indicator of 135.3, which shows that significantly more South African women than men are enrolled for tertiary education. The reading is supported by university enrolment figures at UNISA, South Africa’s largest university, where 60% of the student population was female in 2010. This figure has grown steadily from 56% in 2006.
Relative to South African men, fewer working-age South African women are participating in the formal labour market, in the sense of being actively employed or seeking work. A reading of 72.4 for the Workforce Participation indicator implies that the female labour participation rate is about three quarters of that for men. The most recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey conducted by Statistics
South Africa shows that for the second quarter of 2012, there were 7.57 million men employed compared to 5.87 million women employed in South Africa.
Women are creating their own work place opportunities, as reflected in the Regular Employment Opportunities indicator. This indicator measures the relative gender proportion of regular employees to the total number of workers and it examines all forms of employment, including casual work, self-employment and business ownership. The reading of 102.1 shows that slightly more women are able to find income-generating opportunities compared to men. Interestingly, this indicator has steadily increased in favour of women since 2007, when it reflected a reading of 98.5 in favour of men.
Representation by gender in South African business and government leadership shows that women’s standing in this indicator continues to lag behind men’s. The Business and Government Leaders indicator has a reading of 56.0 which means that for every 100 men in senior, decision-making positions in the South African public or private sector, there are only 56 women.
The Business Women’s Association of South Africa’s (BWASA) Women in Leadership Census 2012 supports these findings. The census showed that while women make up 52% of the population in South Africa, they account for just 3.6% of CEO positions, 5.5% of chairperson positions, and 21.4% of executive management positions. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the census reveals an increase in the number of female directorships, with 17.1% of these positions being occupied by women, compared to 15% in 2011.
Female business owners, defined as those who generate paid employment for others, are significantly underrepresented in South Africa. The Business Owners indicator reading of 37.1 suggests that there are fewer than 40 female business owners for every 100 men. This indicator has the lowest reading of the five indicators.
In 2008, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) launched a R1-billion Transformation and Entrepreneurship Scheme, which was put in place to help drive greater entrepreneurial activity in the country. This Scheme was spread across various development funds, one of which included the Women’s Entrepreneurial Fund which was allocated R300-million.
MasterCard is committed to empowering women through its corporate social responsibility platform (CSR) in the Middle East and Africa, which is focused primarily on bettering the quality of life for women and children. MasterCard does this by supporting a broad range of causes that support women and children through scholarships, financial assistance, educational programmes and various sustainability programmes.
In South Africa, MasterCard has been supporting Junior Achievement South Africa (JASA), a non-profit organisation that partners with the business community, educators and volunteers who work together to develop much needed entrepreneurial skills for young South Africans, for the past three years.
“In support of uplifting women and encouraging entrepreneurship in South Africa, MasterCard most recently sponsored a JASA programme which saw 450 female Grade 11 learners from 10 South African schools take part in its globally-recognised entrepreneurship development programme, JA BizVenture. The learners were taught entrepreneurial and life skills aimed at equipping them to start their own businesses once they graduate from high school, so that they can in turn employ others,” says Panaino.
“We believe that South Africa has come a long way in giving women access to education and regular employment opportunities, which are essential building blocks to further empowerment, financial independence and leadership. However, South Africa still has a long way to go to ensure that women are given the necessary opportunities to grow into senior leadership positions in the workplace, as well as being able to access the necessary support required to establish their own successful businesses,” Panaino concludes.
MasterCard is committed to empowering women through its corporate social responsibility platform (CSR) in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa which is focused primarily on bettering the quality of life for women and children. MasterCard does this by supporting a broad range of women’s and children’s causes through scholarships, financial assistance, educational programs and various sustainability programs, helping provide them with the skills required to stand on their own feet and support themselves and their families.
MasterCard has also devoted extensive resources to developing a deeper understanding of the women's segment in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. It regularly releases consumer insights and trend research on women. These can be accessed at its online repository of proprietary research www.masterintelligence.com
The MasterCard Worldwide Index suite of research products in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa includes the flagship MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence, and the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Purchasing Resilience, both of which are released six monthly, and the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement, the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Online Shopping, and the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Financial Literacy, which are released annually. In addition to the Index properties, MasterCard’s suite of research properties includes the MasterCard Worldwide Survey on Consumer Purchasing Priorities, released six monthly, and the MasterCard Worldwide Survey on Ethical Spending Behavior, released annually.
Besides these, MasterCard also regularly releases Insights reports; the series represents in part its ongoing research and analysis of business dynamics, financial policies and regulatory activities in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region. Over 70 Insights reports have been produced since 2004. The MasterCard Indexes and Insights reports are available at www.masterintelligence.com
MasterCard(NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com,is a global payments and technology company. It operates the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Cashless Conversations Blog and subscribe for the latest news.
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TagsSouth Africa, Women, business ownership, business & government leadership, workforce participation, regular employment opportunities and tertiary education
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