Improving women’s participation in labour market pivotal for growth as 1000 Women Restart is launched

CAPE TOWN. – On women’s day, 9th August, South Africa will pay tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9th August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women.

But the country will also celebrate Women’s Month under the theme: “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future.” The concept of generation equality is a global campaign and links South Africa to global efforts to achieve gender equality by 2030.

Economically, women are disadvantaged greatly, and the unemployment rate of 34.3 % amongst SA women in the labour force in the fourth quarter of 2020 underlines the challenges that South African women still face.

According to Statistics SA’s data for the fourth quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate amongst black African women were particularly alarming – with an unemployment rate of 38.5 %, followed by that of coloured women of 26 %, and white women with 8.1 % unemployment.

Anastacia Tshesane, transformation, diversity and inclusion leader for PWC in Southern Africa, recently said that women’s day is an opportunity to consider and reflect on how women in the workplace had been affected by the economic conditions and changes brought on by COVID-19. The pace of progress towards gender equality across the African continent was slow to begin with and COVID-19 threatens to reverse the important gains that have been made in the last decade. It is imperative that governments, businesses and other stakeholders take steps to address this, she said.

Lullu Krugel, chief economist for PWC, said that women are largely bearing the brunt of unemployment as a result of the COVID-1i pandemic. It has disrupted hundreds of thousands of women’s lives, as well as putting a damper on years of progress around gender equality. This is largely due to the economic sectors that women work in, which have little incentives and protective measures when it comes to unemployment.

She added that the resulting economic fallout has not only disrupted sectors with a larger share of female employment, but it has also increased the existing inequalities of unpaid care and domestic work shouldered by women. If action is not taken to address these challenges, there’s a risk that more women will leave or reduce their participation in the labour market permanently, reversing progress towards gender equality and stunting economic growth.

“Improving female participation in the labour market will have a significant impact on the economy. There are huge benefits from getting more women in productive, well-paid jobs,” she added.

In fact, PwC’s research showed that increasing female employment rates in countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development – which represent 80 % of the world trade and investment – could boost the gross domestic product worldwide by 6 trillion dollar.

According to 2020-reports, three million South Africans lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, of which two million were women.

1000 Women Trust has launched the economic empowerment program 1000 Women Restart – a network for women interested in starting or restarting a business or income generating initiative.

The Network includes women with successful businesses or women in business who would like to expand.

“We will all share, learn and support each other. What do you need – maybe it is access to funding, knowledge, mentorship or solidarity. We will be there for you,” says Tina Thiart, founder member of 1000 Women Trust.

Thiart has started a 1000 Women Restart WhatsUpp-group (on the mobile number 073-2079079) which is already supported by a few hundred women from all over South Africa.

On Mondays inspirational quotes by successful business leaders will be shared. On Tuesdays there will be tips shared for women starting or restarting their business.

On Thursdays there will be an opportunity to advertise your business, while funding sources will be shared on Fridays.

There will be opportunities on Saturdays and Sundays to share skills for success.

1000 Women Trust will formally kick-start the 1000 Women Restart initiative on 3 successive Wednesdays during August – 11th August, 18th August and 25th August, in collaboration with Pick ‘n Pay.

Grow Self-confidence will be the theme of the first webinar on 11th August.

This will revolve around developing women’s self-confidence by giving them access to new skills.

When they have more skills, they have more confidence to apply for new and better jobs, Thiart said.

“Through the webinar about self-confidence, we want to improve women’s employability,” Thiart said.

The second webinar – Investing in Women (on 18th August) – is about the role of networks and how women can access them to improve their chances of getting better jobs. There are two types of networks. One is network marketing, while the other is formal business networks.

The third – on Women Empowerment (on 25th August) – focuses on supplier development.

How do you develop a product so that you can sell it to a supermarket, for example.

The question is how you can develop more businesses for the small women entrepreneur whose produce can directly be sold to the community. 

Women who want to join 1000 Women Restart, can do it for free by registering for the August-webinars.

People who want to join the August-webinars, can register on https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/Event.aspx?itemid=1507470118.

People that register, stand the chance to win exciting prizes, including membership of a business network or a one-on-one with a successful business woman or a free copy of Raymond Ackerman’s book The four legs of the table.