Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Mind the pay and jobs gap: A look at women’s role in the SA economy

Data shows that 58% of women take charge of the day-to-day purchases in their households and they shop for necessities for the family.

Women play an important part in the economy as decision-makers on how to spend money.

They account for 40% of the national income and makeup just more than half of all working adults, although they have a higher unemployment rate than men.

According to the latest Labour Force Survey, 36% of women are unemployed, while 33% of men have no work.

To be classified as employed or unemployed you have to be economically active. People are considered economically inactive if they are not employed and have not been seeking work within the last four weeks and/or are unable to start work within the next 2 weeks.

Only about half of all women were recorded as economically inactive compared to two-thirds of all men.

What work are women more likely to do?

The vast majority of South African women are employed in elementary occupations (a quarter of the workforce), such as street vendors or domestic workers. Five female-dominated occupations in the elementary sector make up 13.2% of the entire South African labour force.

Street vendors, sweepers and cleaners account for 1.3 million people and significantly more than half of them are female, while domestic helpers and cleaners are a further 890 000 people, of which 95% are female.

Women have an average income of roughly 62% of their male counterparts, although the gap shrinks for employed women to 78% of a man’s wage. Married women’s income is 39% higher than the average.

However, marital status and childbearing also affect these numbers.

While only a quarter of the population is married, data indicates 65% of single-parent families in South Africa are headed by women.

“However, the future looks bright for women, as employment and earnings are slowly changing through education. Of the six million South Africans who classify themselves as scholars or students, a little more than half are female, but the view for tertiary education favours women much more,” said Andrew Fulton, director at Eighty20.

Nearly half a million more women have tertiary degrees than their male counterparts, while ten years ago this gap was only 170 000. In addition, more than 200 000 more women currently work in higher education.

ALSO READ: Women’s Month: Money and power in relationships

Do women buy crypto?

BrandMapp data found women are significantly less bold than men at taking financial risk, and are also less likely to have investments such as shares and crypto.

It suggests 10% of males in households that earn more than R10 000 per month hold crypto, compared to 5% for females, while 17% of men and only 12% of women own shares.

What are women spending their money on?

The top five over-indexed retail categories women spent money on in the past month were infant and toddler products, while they also spent online for medical and health, hobbies and crafts, flowers and plants and safety and security for themselves and their homes.

The top five categories for men were entertainment, sports and fitness (online and in-store), music and movies (online), travel and vacations and clothing (online).

What drinks do women buy?

In an analysis of the liquor industry, Eighty20 highlighted the growth in the flavoured alcohol category, including brands like Flying Fish and Brutal Fruit, particularly amongst females. In a country where 72% of beer consumers are male, three of the top five alcohol brands have at least 50% female consumption.

“Beyond their influence on the sports field and bolstering earning potential through education, the already impactful shift in spending power is notable. Retailers and financial services providers should consider how to best grow products and services that cater to the growing financial role of women in our society.”

As key decision-makers with personal and household purchases, becoming more in touch with their interests could further impact buying decisions in the years ahead, Fulton says.

ALSO READ: Women’s Month: 10 tips for women to handle their finances

Are women smarter with their money?

Data gathered by buy-now-pay-later provider PayJustNow also shows women are smarter with their money. They are not only more conservative with their finances but have better credit behaviour than men, says Craig Newborn, CEO of PayJustNow.

72% of all PayJustNow orders coming from women, accounting for 68% of the gross merchandise value. While women tend to shop more often, men tend to make bigger purchases, averaging R1 681 per basket, compared to R1 342 for women.

The numbers also suggest women shop smarter. Where men use an average of 34% of their available credit at any given time, women only use 29%. At the same time, the average Prism score – which predicts a consumer’s credit risk using real-time financial transaction history – shows women have healthy credit scores than men.

“South African women are more likely than men to take career breaks or reduce their working hours to take care of their families and children, which affects their income and long-term financial prospects. But our numbers show clearly that they still keep their financial well-being in check, with healthier overall credit behaviour than men,” said Newborn.

Newborn said women are primary caregivers and therefore buy on behalf of everyone who they are responsible. They also always evaluate how their purchases impact the people they care about the most and their purchasing decisions often carry more emotional weight than men’s.

In short, they tend to be the gateway to everybody else.

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.