For immediate release: 17 September, 2020 11:30
Equal Pay for Women is the New Industrial Revolution

On the first International Equal Pay Day, a call to change the way the world works

"Equal pay for equal work!" For generations of women around the world, the slogan has been a rallying cry, a call to solidarity in the fight against a system that has long devalued their labour.

And yet, despite progressive legislation and reforms in many countries, the battle for change and redress is far from over. 

This week, on Friday, September 18, 2020, the United Nations marks the first International Equal Pay Day, highlighting the continuing global disparity in income between men and women.

The gender pay gap has been estimated at 23 per cent worldwide, with women earning only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. 

Women face higher rates of unemployment too, and greater barriers to finding work,including the lack of parental leave and child and dependent care. 

In South Africa,which has the world’s highest wage inequality overall, the gender pay gap is higher still, with women earning 28 per cent less than men. 

While the Employment Equity Act prohibits such discrimination, the statistical reality is that a woman in South Africa would have to work just over 212 extra days a year, to earn the same as a man working in the same position.

In the quest to raise awareness and help find ways to eliminate the gender wage gap, the European Union’s SA-based Capacity Building Programme for Employment Promotion (CBPEP) is lending its full support to International Equal Pay Day. 

“Equality in opportunity and equality in pay are fundamental to the CBPEP approach,” says Glen Fisher, CBPEP’s Technical Assistance Team Leader. CBPEP works closely with government to support the transition of young people from education to work, he adds.

“CBPEP also supports small business development and the informal sector, which is of particular relevance to women.”  

More than 47 percent of women in South Africa are employed in the informal sector, while women globally perform two and a half times more unpaid household and care-work than men. 

“Rights, social justice and equality are basic principles that underlie our efforts, and are really guided by the South African constitution which is really quite progressive in this regard, says Subethri Naidoo, Senior Manager: Strategy Management Communications at the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), in which CBPEP is situated. “Getting the principles put into practice is another matter.”  

For Mariam Homayoun, Programme Manager of the Delegation of the European Union in South Africa, International Equal Pay Day shines a light on the importance of joint efforts to reduce inequalities, including on labour issues in South African society. 

“I am super passionate and thrilled about the opportunity we have to bring transformation to the lives of women in South Africa,” says Homayoun. She adds that statistics show that women in this country face several challenges to continuing their work,including violence, patriarchy and pregnancy. 

As the UN points out, many women struggle to balance paid work and family responsibilities,forcing them to move into part-time employment or even leave the workforce for long stretches. 

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasise the need to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. 

“Achieving equal pay is an important milestone for human rights and gender equality,” says the UN. 

In the age of anew industrial revolution, against the background of a pandemic that has thrown social injustice and inequality into sharp relief, the call for Equal Pay for Equal Work resounds more loudly than ever. 

Not as a slogan or a rallying cry, but as a fundamental plan of action for changing the way the world works. 

*For more information on CBPEP and International Equal Pay Day, please visit and 


Here’s how you can help to close the gender wage gap in South Africa:
1. Provide support with childcare: on-site creche facilities allow a working mother to save time and money plus have peace of mind.
2. Transform the  workplace: digitisation can be used to transform the workplace, enabling parents to look after their children by working at a distance, and allowing people to work flexible hours in order to accommodate their childcare duties.
3. Implement Gender-Neutral Leave: South African maternity leave is 120 days, versus paternity leave of three days. Introducing gender-neutral leave would help to overcome the issue of women being perceived as being less valuable, due to their domestic responsibilities as the primary caregiver.
4. Start the conversations of change: talking openly about wage disparity in the workplace can help to pave the way for a better deal for female employees.

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The Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), in collaboration with the National Planning Commission (NPC), is holding a roundtable discussion on Education in South Africa, via Zoom, from 17:00 to 18:30 on Tuesday, 30 June 2020.

The discussion will revolve around two landmark papers that have been released by the National Planning Commission for public comment.

The papers are:
1) Education and Skills for the Economy, which focuses on basic and technical education;
2) Analysis of Post-School Education and Training System (PSET) Trends Towards NDP 2030, which focuses on trends in post-school higher and vocational education.

The two papers offer vital insights into progress in the advancement of South African education and skills development. The papers explore where the system has fallen short, and make recommendations for strengthening delivery. They further aim to understand how the South African education system is enabling pathways to the labour market and employment.

The authors of the papers are Professor Servaas Van der Berg, Professor in Economics and South African National Research Chair in the Economics of Social Policy at Stellenbosch University; Professor Martin Gustafsson, of the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University; and Carmel Marock, Executive Director, Singizi Consulting Africa.

In the long run, according to international evidence, the quality of basic education plays a key role in promoting a nation’s economic development. The NDP’s focus on improving the quality of schooling in South Africa is in line with this evidence. The authors conclude that the National Development Plan’s coverage of education is good. The plan still represents an excellent tool to guide the national policy debates and more detailed implementation plans, up to at least 2030, the time horizon of the NDP.

Despite improvements, South Africa is falling behind other middle-income countries when it comes to quality of schooling. Youths in South Africa are about half as likely to acquire a university degree than youths in countries such as Brazil or Turkey. Only around 8% of South Africa’s youths currently acquire a university degree, while around 19% of South African youths currently obtain any post-school qualification.

Join us for a dialogue on these papers.

Please ensure you RSVP by Monday 29 June 2020 to Anita Rwelamira or Dakalo Netswera

For media queries or any more information, contact

For immediate release: 3 June 2020, 14:00
New Shoots: A ground-breaking new study sows the seeds for job creation and food security in a post-COVID South Africa

Employment-intensive land redistribution could hold the key to agrarian reform, reveals the landmark field study

Against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has cast South Africa’s social inequalities into stark relief, a ground-breaking new study has raised the hope that small-scale farming can play a significant role in tackling the challenges of unemployment and food security.

Commissioned by the Capacity Building Programme for Employment Promotion (CBPEP), an EU-funded initiative, the study by a team of experts set out to model the impacts of redistributing 50% of available agricultural land in four local municipalities. More than 23,000 jobs can be created in these municipalities alone, in Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape, suggests the study. According to team leader Professor Ben Cousins, founder of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape, these gains can be achieved by:

- Reducing the size of farming units, while increasing their total numbers
- Changing the mix and scale of the farm commodities produced
- Changing farming systems to become more employment-intensive.

“The Covid-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated the vulnerability of the livelihoods of very large numbers of the SA population, and highlighted food insecurity as one key aspect,” says Prof Cousins.

Successful land reform and rural development could dramatically improve the quality of life of the many rural residents who make up one-third of South Africa’s population, by boosting jobs, fostering economic opportunities, and opening up access to markets. Currently, up to 70% of food sales are dominated by the big four corporate supermarket retailers. For the vast majority of small-scale farmers, participation in the economy is limited to informal agricultural value chains and markets.

“The study’s findings have major implications for the targeting and selection of beneficiaries, commodities and farming systems,” adds Professor Cousins.

Employment-intensive land redistribution could form the central thrust of a renewed programme of agrarian reform and rural development, sowing the seeds for a brighter future for millions of South Africans in the world beyond the pandemic.

The full CBPEP study will be launched at a webinar at 10am on Thursday, June 4, 2020. For further information, or to speak to one of the people involved in this study, please contact

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