Women hit hardest by Covid-19 job losses – Ipsos SA

As Mzansi marks the second International Women’s Day since the Covid-19 pandemic began, new Ipsos research explores how the pandemic impacted women’s progress toward equality, and closing the gender pay gap

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More flexible working practices and support for women and girls facing violence and abuse are key to ensuring the recovery from Covid-19 issues facing women.

This is according to a global study by market research leader Ipsos South Africa released on International Women’s Day today.

Ipsos interviewed a total of 20 520 adults between the ages of 16 and 74 between 22 January and 5 February 2021.

International Women’s Day: Ipsos SA director and political analyst, Mari Harris. Photo: YouTube
Ipsos SA director and political analyst, Mari Harris. Photo: YouTube

The global study was carried out in 20 countries and in partnership with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London in observation of International Women’s Day held today.

Ipsos SA director and political analyst, Mari Harris, said the study also highlighted, among other things, women’s fears of losing their jobs, equality issues within the workplace, gender pay-gap perceptions, and the impact and recovery from Covid-19.

South African women also called for more flexible working practices under national lockdown.

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Five-hundred respondents called for more supportive measures in dealing with gender-based violence, which has been widely called “the second pandemic”. Respondents also agreed that while the pay gap was important, they are divided over whether it should be top priority in the country.

Women worried about job safety

Despite the job losses in 2020, Harris said we have not yet seen the end of it. More than six in every ten online South Africans still believe that they were more likely to lose their jobs as a result of Covid-19.

Online respondents in 28 countries were asked to list the four or five most important issues facing women that will be necessary to be addressed after the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Mzansi, 63% of people worried about the sustainability of their jobs. Harris said, “Job security is a worldwide worry and only in Sweden, the Netherlands and Israel do less than 30% worry about the permanence of their current jobs.”

In South Africa, Harris noted 69% of women were worried about keeping their jobs against 58% of male participants. “Disproportionately, more women than men lost their jobs in 2020 due to the effect of the pandemic on economic certainty and the stability and/or growth of businesses,” she said.

Gender-based violence

Meanwhile in his weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa stressed government’s support to fighting gender-based violence.

International Women’s Day: President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation address on Thursday evening, trying his best to inspire South Africans amid economic decline and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: Supplied/GCIS

He said, “The women in our country still face many challenges. They are still underrepresented in the boardrooms and corridors of power and they are still more likely to be poor and unemployed than their male counterparts. Women are still more vulnerable to gender-based violence and femicide.”

With gender-based violence being a global issue, Harris said, “Respondents in Turkey at 56%, South Africa at 52% and Peru at 51% are much more likely than others to prioritise support for women and girls who face violence or abuse than the global country average. In contrast, this is seen as less of a priority in Russia (24%), the Netherlands at 23% and Italy at 21%.”

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