South Africa

Almost half of South African women are absent from the labour force

Almost half of the South African working-age women are not part of the country’s labour force.

Of the 20.3 million South African women between 15 years and 64 years, 47% gave up looking for employment or were classified as not economically active for other reasons, according to second-quarter data published by the statistics office on Tuesday. That compares with 35.6% of working-age men.

The official unemployment rate for women, which records individuals available to work and searching for a job, has been above the national average since at least 2008, the data show.

The productive potential of South African women in the labour market remains unused, the statistics office said.

In addition, women who do find work are usually in vulnerable environments, often characterized by inadequate income, low productivity, and difficult conditions, according to the agency. That’s despite legislation boosting equity in various industries and levels.

While the country of 60.6 million people has made progress with appointing women as company heads and cabinet ministers, industries such as mining are still male-dominated, and girls in poor rural areas often don’t complete high school, limiting their employment prospects.

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