Vulnerable Women Have 250 000 Less Jobs Post-COVID

Labour market participation is an essential part of attaining full gender equality. Recovery from Covid in the labour market has been gender-biased, and the challenge is to support overall recovery, as well as implement measures targeted to help women regain lost ground.

In South Africa there are still less jobs held by women than before Covid, whilst men’s jobs have increased slightly. In addition, the number of women who are unsuccessful in looking for work has grown much faster than the number of men.

There are now about a quarter of a million less jobs for the most vulnerable South African women than before Covid. 

Successful economies in the 21st century will have to be innovative, knowledge-oriented economies, with important workforce skills being critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving and tech-savviness.

Many African countries are not yet preparing adequately for this. In South Africa, for example, there are 2.5 million more adults who are not in employment, education or training than before Covid, and 56% of these 22 million people are women.

Whilst the detail of how this Fourth Industrial Revolution will unfold in coming decades remains unclear, it is expected to bring both opportunities and challenges.

As fields like robotics, coding, artificial intelligence gather momentum, they will create interesting, exciting jobs, and they will transform many other jobs.

To take advantage of these opportunities the workforce needs the right skills and knowledge and mindset, in general, and especially in the case of girls and young women.

Girls in STEM

The Motsepe Foundation’s Girls in STEM programme aims to provide this introduction to digital economy fields, namely 3D modelling, engineering, and coding.

The purpose of the programme is to make STEM more accessible while highlighting relatable role models in the industry. This programme emphasises that achieving gender equality is not only about policy and broad frameworks. It is also about helping girls and women overcome internalised senses of what they can and can’t do by presenting them with an achievable palette of study and work options.

Both public and private sector have a role to play in this work. The stories of great women role models must be told, and opportunity for mentorship can address and alter stereotypical notions of the role women can and do play in our society.

Such efforts, combined with the right support policies and adequate resources, will ensure that we attain gender equality, and soon.