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For many women in SA, keeping a job more important than asking for higher pay

– Women across the world are feeling the pinch as inflation rockets while the gender pay gap persists

– In South Africa, underlying systems make it just a little bit harder for us to navigate this conversation as both individuals and organisations says unlearning expert Zanele Njapha (TomorrowToday)

Women across the world are feeling the pinch as inflation rockets while the gender pay gap persists.

South Africa is ranked at number 123 out of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report for 2022.

In South Africa, the issue was pushed firmly back into the spotlight after Banyana Banyana were crowned 2022 Women's African Cup of Nations (Wafcon) champions.

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The women's soccer team far outperforms Bafana Bafana and government has now promised to address the pay disparity between the two national sides.

Related stories:

How gender pay gap leaves women underinsured compared to men

New law to force companies to reveal wage gap between highest- and lowest-paid

What can organisations do to address this perennial problem of gender pay disparity?

The Money Show interviews Zanele Njapha, famously known in her field as 'the Unlearning Lady'.

Njapha is an unlearning expert and innovation facilitator at specialist business consultancy TomorrowToday.

It really feels like one of those conversations that we're always going to be having, and especially in South Africa.

Zanele Njapha, Unlearning Expert & Innovation Facilitator – TomorrowToday

We are still sitting at between 23% and 35% with our median gender pay gap at the moment. It is exacerbated in the local context by the fact that more than 40% of South African mothers are single parents.

Zanele Njapha, Unlearning Expert & Innovation Facilitator – TomorrowToday

I think that contextually, as a country, we've got all of these underlying systems that almost make it just a little bit harder for us to navigate this as individuals, but also as organisations.

Zanele Njapha, Unlearning Expert & Innovation Facilitator – TomorrowToday

Njapha says companies need to have their own mechanisms to make sure they're upholding South Africa's existing rules.

However, she believes where most of the work still comes in, is with the individual.

We have almost this misunderstanding (in the amazing organisations that we work in) around how much we can ask for… around what it means to be paid well, but also there is this disparity in our workplaces in the first place.

Zanele Njapha, Unlearning Expert & Innovation Facilitator – TomorrowToday

Still today, the conversation around money and earning is almost a taboo subject in most places.

Zanele Njapha, Unlearning Expert & Innovation Facilitator – TomorrowToday

She agrees that, considering there are so many single mother-headed households in South Africa, the priority is often to hold on to a job, rather than pushing for higher pay.

"But, with that being the bigger conversation, women are constantly losing."

Another factor is that women in South Africa are living a lot longer than men, she says.

As a result, women will need more healthcare over the almost ten years they live longer than their male counterparts.

You're also seeing that woman-headed households are about 40% poorer than those that are headed by males in South Africa. So all of the context really causes women in the workplace today to go 'It's better for me to just keep quiet'.

Zanele Njapha, Unlearning Expert & Innovation Facilitator – TomorrowToday

But what starts to happen when we hold the shorter end of the stick is you really start to feel the pinch of not asking for more, of not having the conversation and of not taking this almost leadership role around what it means to earn, but also to be well-compensated, in the workplace.

Zanele Njapha, Unlearning Expert & Innovation Facilitator – TomorrowToday

Scroll to the top of the article to listen to this important conversation

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : For many women in SA, keeping a job more important than asking for higher pay

Artmotion S.Africa

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