The Inequalities In South Africa

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In 1994, South Africa inherited a labour market environment based on a poor economic system with political instability, adversarial labour relations, cheap migrant labour and massive income and wealth inequalities. According to Onsander (2006) South Africa was confronted with the dilemma that despite the fall of Apartheid and the new majority rule, the economic power was still concentrated to the white settler minority. It’s clear from above mentioned that whites enjoyed immense advantages compared to other South Africans.

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The inequalities in South Africa discriminated based on race, faith, colour, national origin, class and gender, and created a situation of social exclusion, in which women were among the most marginalised. During colonialism and Apartheid women’s traditional subordination was retained and strengthened as new forms of oppression were added. Therefore, women had a status inferior to that of men. The forced labour system had effects on women as it forced them to take over tasks traditionally done by men, raise their children virtually on their own and become dependant on the economic support from their husbands, which deepened and reinforced the patriarchal domination. Life in rural areas drove many women to urban areas to look for work, but most could only find employment as domestic workers receiving extremely low wages.

The discrimination based on sex in most areas of employment and women’s subordinate ranking on the labour market resulted in that women earned much less money than men. Few jobs were open to women outside of domestic service and farm labour, which were the lowest paid jobs in the formal sector. It shows, women were not fairly represented in all positions of influence, in employment, in education and by law. The parts of women’s bad mistreatment were not necessarily connected but could reinforce each other and make women vulnerable.

In 1996 South Africa adopted a new constitution and in the New Labour Act and Employment Equity Bill, Affirmative Action was introduced to accomplish a greater level of equality in education and employment. The Affirmative Action policy is a broad policy that aims at including many not represented fairly and disadvantaged groups into the labour market, levelling the playing field through equal access to education and job opportunities.

It is a highly controversial issue in South Africa and has come out as one of the most debated and divisive issues in post-Apartheid South Africa. It is easy to find research, reports and articles on the topic. The inspiration to this research is an article published in 2004, by Naidoo and Kongolo with the title; Has Affirmative Action Reached South African Women? This research is based strictly on statistics and measurable changes in employment patterns in South Africa. I think that there is more to it/or behind it than just the statistics and what can be measured in numbers.

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