Podcast: Exploring the gender pay gap in agriculture

Agri SA labour specialist Lebohang Sethusha, joins the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast to unpack the issues around the pay disparity between women and men in the agricultural industry. Other guests include Wilmaré Lotz, owner and manager of Boland Mushrooms; Grant Mapham, a director at Sesisonke Farm; vegetable farmer Philip Kgapane; Sinelizwi citizen journalist Lunga Jakuja; SoilSista and farmer Keabetswe Mokgatla; and Zambian food stylist Clara Kapelembe Bwali

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Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2020 paints a gloomy picture related to the country’s unemployment status. 

This week, Agri SA labour specialist Lebohang Sethusha joins Farmer’s Inside Track, Mzansi’s favourite agriculture podcast, to unpack these figures, especially pertaining to the country’s gender pay gap. 

The survey notes that 34,3% of women are unemployed compared to the 31,0% of men. The same report also indicates that black African women are the most vulnerable, with an unemployment rate of 38,5%.  

“In terms of agriculture specifically I think we have a long way to go in terms of men and women having access to equal opportunities,” says Sethusha. 

ALSO READ: Gender pay gap: ‘Not yet uhuru for women in agriculture’

Improving gender equality

She highlights three categories where we can improve gender equality in agriculture. 

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When it comes to gender equality and the promotion of gender equality, what we see first is that women don’t get much opportunity when it comes to financial support for agricultural activities. This is especially true for rural women, and this is where most agricultural activity takes place. 

Secondly, we don’t see many female voices in agriculture coming forward to promote gender equality, she says. Lastly, we don’t see a lot of promotion for the support of women when it comes to land issues. 

Agri SA labour specialist, Lebohang Sethusha, joins the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast to unpack the issues around the pay disparity between women and men in the agricultural industry. Photo: Supplied
Agri SA labour specialist, Lebohang Sethusha, joins the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast to unpack the issues around the pay disparity between women and men in the agricultural industry. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

“If we can get more support in those three categories, we can go a long way to opening up more opportunities for women and closing that gap between male and female access to skills, land and finance,” she says. 

Sethusha further recommends that an ideal system of equal pay will develop when we see more women being hired into higher positions, such as agricultural supervisors, farm supervisors, and managers. Also, when more women become farmers of farm owners. 

“When you look at the census in commercial agriculture, you can see that there are not a lot of women in high places in agriculture,” Sethusha points out. 

But the ideal system of equal pay will not just close the income gap between men and women, but also break down social norms that certain jobs are suitable for men, while other jobs are suitable for women. 

“If we can break those social norms down, that will create an ideal system to close the pay gap between males and females,” Sethusha says. 

There are also other deeply rooted issues that must be broken down. Sethusha suggests that more women need to be hired into the agri policy space to make policy that addresses the problems experienced by women. 

ALSO READ: ‘I never let my gender undermine my capabilities’

Land reform and women

In the current land reform policies, there is an emphasis on getting land into female hands. 

“I think if we can get land into female hands, that will be a step in the right direction when it comes to land reform and helping gender equality,” says Sethusha. “If we see those themes in the land reform policy space, that is a great win for us in terms of gender equality.” 

“Land is where the power is, land is where economic emancipation is for females.”

Sethusha adds, “Once that land is in female hands, they can start pursuing entrepreneurship, farming their own land and start connecting to value chains to get their products out there and make a sustainable income.” 

The government can play a huge role by getting female policy makers to make policies that address problems that are faced by women in agriculture, Sethusha points out. 

“Having lawmakers that are female that can help push the agenda of females in the agricultural space,” she says. “That will be a great way to impact gender equality in the sector.” 

Wilmare and staff at work on the mushroom farm
Wilmaré Lotz at work on her mushroom farm in the Western Cape. Photo: Supplied

Other podcast highlights: 

Besides the podcast interview with Sethusha, this week’s Farmer’s Inside Track also has other highlights for the agriculture sector: 

Zambian-born food photographer and food stylist, Clara Kapalembe Bwali founded Black Garlic in 2020, merging her passion for delicious food with mesmerising photography and making people happy through food. Photo: Supplied/ Food For Mzansi
  • In this week’s episode of Farmer’s Inside Track: The 101 of mushroom farming. We’ve got great tips for farmers wanting to grow mushrooms. To grow this crop, you need to be meticulous. But one of the perks is that they are in season all year! 
    Journalist Dona van Eeden chats to Wilmaré Lotz, owner and manager of Boland Mushrooms.  
  • The Farmer’s Inside Track team chats to Grant Mapham, a director at Sesisonke Farm, one of Mzansi’s most sustainable farming systems in Harrismith in the Free State. Grant weighs in on the debate of traditional versus sustainable farming. 
  • Farmer’s tip of the week: Our farmer tip of the week comes from Philip Kgapane. He runs a vegetable farm in Mafarafara Village in the Sekhukhune District. 
  • Book of the week: Our book of the week is “Eat that frog” by Brian Tracy. If you’ve ever felt like there is just never enough time for everything on your “to-do” list, then this productivity book is a must read! 
    Our Sinelizwi citizen journalist Lunga Jakuja reviews the book. 
  • #SoilSistas: Our brand-new campaign celebrating female farmers across South Africa is back with Keabetswe Mokgatla from Kalbasfontein in Gauteng, a young psychology and sociology graduate turned farmer. Powered by Corteva Agriscience, #SoilSistas will highlight some of the extraordinary women who are participating in the Corteva Women Agripreneur Programme 2021, a year-long blended development programme at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA).  
  • Mzansi Flavour: Zambian food stylist Clara Kapelembe Bwali shares her secret to making the best mushroom and chicken pasta. 

How to listen to Farmer’s Inside Track 

Option 1: Click here to listen on Spotify (all mobile and other devices). 

Option 2: Click here to listen on any Apple device. 

Option 3: Click here to listen on Google Podcasts. 

Option 4:Click here listen using this player. Just click “play”. 

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