“Only 4 countries in the world have a higher proportion of women at work than men. All are in Africa: Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Burundi”.
That was a random tweet I found on my home page on Twitter. I sent a reply to the source to verify her claim and she obliged. What I discovered was stimulating as I dug deeper, taking off from her lead, Mail and Guardian Africa.
I thought Rwanda had truly performed remarkably in political empowerment with 64 women in its 100-seat lower house. In a world where 21.8% of national parliamentarians are female, Rwanda is the only country in the world with more women than men in parliament. What caught my eye was that while South Africa and Senegal made the top 10 in the global ranking, Nigeria did not.
Three days earlier I had posted on my fan page a report about the gender gap in the US. I went back to it and hit another statistics about gender pay gap, “Currently, there’s no country in the entire world where a woman earns as much as a man for doing the same job. And it’s going to take another 81 years for the gender gap to close”.
Just what is going on with women and men in the workforce? Why are women paid differently from men when they have the same qualifications? A colleague said to me that in the Nigerian civil service, women are given less money as transfer allowance compared to men who get enough to move a family while a woman gets an amount only for her own travel. In some universities in South Africa, women lecturers earn less than their male counterparts.
I am stunned therefore that 20 years after the Beijing Conference and with so many civil organisations, pressure groups, consistently seeking equal rights for women and the United Nations creating gender supported initiatives including the UN Women, women are still so discriminated against in the labour market.