As the month of March, in which we observed International Women’s Day, comes to an end, it is important for us to reflect on how we can effectively make changes toward Gender Equality beyond the commemorative days.
According to analysis conducted for PwC’s annual Women in Work Index: Covid-19 is reversing the important gains made over the last decade for women in the workforce. In South Africa, 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.
According to research by UN Women: Before Covid-19 hit, women on average spent six more hours than men on unpaid childcare every week. During Covid-19, women have taken on an even greater share and now spend 7.7 more hours per week on unpaid childcare than men – this shift equates to almost as much as an extra full-time job. As a result, it is reported that more women than men have had to leave the labour market during the pandemic.
The longer this higher burden of care work on women lasts will result in higher numbers of women permanently leaving the labour market, thus reversing not only progress towards gender equality but also stunting economic growth. In order to undo the damage caused by Covid-19 to women in work, progress towards gender equality needs to be twice as fast as its historical rate has been.
International Women’s Day allowed us to pause and to reflect on the progress made; to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. But we do not stop there, as we work towards achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world, we need to continue to identify ways in which we can make an impact. In making an impact it is important to realise that change isn’t just about big headline moments, legal victories and international agreements; but the way we talk, think, and act, every day, can create a ripple effect that benefits everyone!
Everyday actions that we can take at home, in your community and at work towards this include:
Make sure they know that they are more than their appearance; praise them for their intelligence, strength, leadership, athleticism and so much more. Let them know that there is no wrong or right way to be a girl!
Within our Industry we need to normalise recognising and celebrating the achievements of women, regardless of how big or small they may be. By doing so we will inspire these individuals to greater heights. Progress can be achieved whether we operate individually or collectively. Although the individual power should never be taken for granted or minimised; collectively we can achieve more, have a louder voice and can create bigger waves of change!
Let’s make a change and make 2021 count for women and girls everywhere.