FEDUSA Deeply Concerned That Women Are the Biggest Losers in New Record Unemployment Rate of 34.4%

24 August 2021

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) is deeply concerned that once again, women have been left holding the thick end of the stick with latest number from StatsSA showing that unemployment among women of all races has risen sharply from 31.4% in quarter one of 2021 to 36.8% in the second quarter of this year. These numbers compare unfavourably with those for men which have actually dropped down from 34% in the first quarter to 32.4% in the second quarter.

These numbers are also a strong indicator of socio-economic disparities between men and women in different facets of life, which leaves women lagging behind in terms of socio-economic opportunities.

One of the biggest drivers of inequality between women and men in South Africa is inequitable access to education and training opportunities. FEDUSA urges the government to address such disparities because equitable access to education and vocational training has played a pivotal role in ensuring that women are placed on equal footing with men in the labour market and the world of work more generally.

FEDUSA would therefore like to see the immediate strengthening of universal and sustainable social protection policies, investment in supporting families with care work, advocating women as leaders, and ensuring the dignity and safety of women and men in the labour market for better present and future times.

Globally, the COVID 19 pandemic has served to aggravate a historically difficult situation for women in the world of work  in that women have been hit particularly hard by the crisis with the employment loss for women standing at 5 % in 2020, compared to 3.9% for men.

Women are also concentrated in the sectors that have hardest hit by the pandemic such as tourism, hospitality, care economy, retail, food, manufacturing, insurance, banking, administration and day care centres. Lower-paid workers, many of whom are women, have been severely affected, as the sectors outlined above, have a high concentration of female workers. During this time, women had to take up domestic responsibilities such as childcare resulting in their withdrawal from formal employment, swelling the ranks of the unemployed; which has also been a highly traumatising experience psychologically.

Of course, poverty and food insecurity play a key role in women being vulnerable as there is a strong correlation between hunger and gender inequalities. FEDUSA would like to urge the government to support women empowerment initiatives such as cooperatives and through preferred procurement in state tenders.

The release of such depressing numbers during Women’s Month only serves to intensify the need to address and remedy these historical inequalities with urgency.

For interviews please contact:

Ms Riefdah Ajam

FEDUSA General Secretary

079 696 2629

Mr Ashley Benjamin

FEDUSA Deputy General Secretary

083 258 4433