What The Latest Stats SA Report on Unemployment Really Means for South African Women

Enough is enough. Here’s what we can do to address this national crisis.

Getting work is exceptionally difficult in SA and we are often made to feel like we just not trying hard enough. I know many people who feel as though no matter how many side gigs they take on, they just can’t make ends meet. We want you to know that you are not alone, honey. Truth is, the problem is not your willingness to try but it’s a national crisis which affects women a lot more than men, and we’re often aren’t aware of it. So here’s the full picture:

Statistics SA revealed on Tuesday 30 November that the unemployment rate in the country has increased to 27.5%. This is a 0.3% increase from the second quarter which ranked unemployment at 27,2%. According to Stats SA analysis on how women fare in the workforce, ‘The rate of unemployment amongst women was 29,5% in the second quarter of 2018 compared with 25,3% amongst men, according to the official definition of unemployment.’ This definition does not take into account those who are searching for a job.

Where’s The Woman? Unemployment Stats Show Gender Gap In SA For What It Is

These statistics reveal a worrying landscape for women in South Africa. According to the last available census, women make up 51% of the population. These figures are a slim indication of the poor representation of women seen in the workforce. SA parliament, however, shows a more uplifting picture of representation with a steady increase in women leaders. South Africa was ranked 10th in the world with 41.78% of women in the National Assembly. The National Council of Provinces shows a 35.3% of women representation. We have an amazing constitution which protects and upholds the need for gender equity but it would appear the application of this has been a slow walk for South Africa.


As we see the number of women involved in politics steadily increase (an exceptionally important need for a country with a female majority) the upcoming 2019 elections is an opportunity for women to shake up gender inequalities. The recent announcement of sanitary products being tax-free (yaaaaas!) shows the presence of women inside places of power will allow for issues facing women to be at the forefront in a manner that is inclusive and just.

READ MOREFINALLY! Treasury Announces That Sanitary Pads Are Officially VAT Exempt

Let’s take it back to the workforce. Skills development is key is getting women in the driver’s seat of the economy. The inclusivity in the workforce can only benefit the economy and strengthen the value of the workforce. According to further studies by Stats SA, women only make up 32% of managers. The industries led by women include domestic work, clerks or technical work while men take lead on all other industries.

To all the women who lead their industries with vigour, a hearty congratulations and salute to you. It is time we reflect on how little is being done to advance and prioritise women in the vast range of industries available in this economy.

What can you do?

While all of these statistics can weigh on you negatively, there are ways we can all be proactive in choosing those who represent us in policy and transformation objectives. As we know the 2019 general elections are on the way. According to a Daily Maverick report, ‘As of June 2018, a little over 26-million citizens had registered for the 2019 election. Of these, 14,431,172 (55%) are women and 11,785,407 (44.9%) are men. Women between 18 and 29 years account for 3,010,389 (20.9%) of all registered females.’

This is INCREDIBLE news to see how women are fast mobilising to the goalposts of change. February 2019 will provide another opportunity for all South Africans to register to vote. This is a great time to get researching on what policies favour the advancement and representation of women. Take to Twitter and ask your favourite parties the right questions to see what is being done to change this picture.

By using our voices we can challenge leaders to step up their game and protect the advancement of the fierce majority.

Stay posted on Cosmopolitan.co.za as we provide you with the latest updates on how you can get registered closer to the time.

Read more Career

More From


Hustle 13 Jun 2019 SHARE
5 Ways to Nail a Healthy Work / Life Balance
Hustle 12 Jun 2019 SHARE
The Surprising Question You Should Ask In a Job interview
Hustle 11 Jun 2019 SHARE
These Destressing Tips Actually—No, Like Really—Work