South African Women Benefit Largely From Post-Apartheid Labor Reforms

Caster Semenva
South Africa's double Olympic champion Caster Semenya crosses the finish line during the 5,000m run at South African Championships in Germiston, South Africa, April 25, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Following the dissolution of South Africa's apartheid, reforms in the labor market largely benefited women in the workforce, a study by the United Nations University (UNU) revealed.

According to Bloomberg, the study found out that South Africa's post-apartheid governments helped narrow the wage gap from 21 percent in 1993 to seven percent in 2014. Particularly in tertiary education, the number of women doubled to 20 percent in 2015 from 10 percent in 1993 when apartheid still existed.

"The post-apartheid government has been successful in improving the human-capital characteristics of women. This has led to an increasing number of women in high-skilled occupations," researcher at the University of Cape Town and part of the UNU study, Jacqueline Mosomi, said.

Ever since Nelson Mandela stepped into power in 1994, reforms have been implemented in the labor market. Many laws focused on promoting gender and racial diversity in the workplace and as a result, South Africa's women were given a chance to expand their horizons.

Mosomi pointed out that a combination of South Africa's apartheid legacy and a patriarchal culture became a solid foundation where researchers and economists started their studies on "the evolution of the gender wage gap."

Aside from allowing women to participate in South Africa's workforce, post-apartheid governments also encouraged the narrowing of the wage gap among men and women employees, beginning with the opportunities opened for females in the education sector.

As part of the efforts to promote gender equality in education and the labor market, the South African government initiated TechnoGirl, a program aimed at educating young girls so they can penetrate the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in the future.

According to Voice of America, girls aged 15-18 who are doing exceptionally well in school are immersed in STEM-related companies in the country. Professionals from these fields help mentor the students and will keep in contact with them after they complete the program.

Since TechnoGirl was established in 2004, over 5,000 young South African women have been granted scholarships in universities and colleges that encourage STEM fields.

China's Huawei has also joined the bandwagon in initiating programs that aim to help South Africa's young women find their place in technology sectors after completing their studies.

IT News Africa reported on Monday that Huawei South Africa established three training programs dedicated to introducing female students to the vast world of technology. Through the programs, tertiary-level students have a chance to travel to China to learn about Chinese technology.

Huawei said it is looking to establish a program for even younger students in high school in efforts to help the South African government encourage women to join the tech sector.

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