UN Human Development Reports points to gender imbalance in paid and unpaid work in South Africa

By | 3 February 2016

Johannesburg, February, 2016 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa has launched the global 2015 Human Development Report in Johannesburg. Titled ‘Work for Human Development’ the report examines links between work and human development and explores changes between job security, flexibility and demand for skills as well as issues of paid and unpaid work, including care, voluntary, creative and sustainable work.


The WESP 2016 and the HDR 2015 booklets. Photo: UNIC Pretoria

UNDP Senior Economist Osten Chulu unpacked the key messages of the report including latest data from the 2014 development index in which South Africa is ranked 116th out or 118 countries. Mr. Chulu shared the report’s findings over the years and the dimensions in which the it aims to achieve its goals.

Issues such as healthy working conditions, life expectancy were all interlinked and interdependent on the power of work whether it is paid or unpaid and voluntary. The report also alludes to how countries need to address issues of gender inequality in the work place and highlights the disparities between men and women. “The quantifiable amount of unpaid work done by women does not equate to that of men,” said Mr. Chulu.

UNPD Senior Economist Mr. Osten Chulu. Photo: UNIC Pretoria

UNPD Senior Economist Mr. Osten Chulu. Photo: UNIC Pretoria

A panel of experts from youth and women’s organisations, the department of labour, think tanks as well as labour movements took part in a discussion following the repot Launch. They shared their perspectives with a view to linking outcomes of the report to the various sectors of society which they represent, as well as assessing and providing feedback on its content.

The HDR2015 takes a broad view of work going beyond jobs and looks at activities as such as unpaid care work, voluntary and creative work-all of which contribute to the richness to human lives. It argues that if the potential of all people is harnessed through appropriate strategies and proper policies, human progress would be accelerated and human development deficits would be reduced.

UNDP Resident Representative for South Africa, Mr. Gana Fofang. Photo: UNIC Pretoria

UNDP Resident Representative for South Africa, Mr. Gana Fofang. Photo: UNIC Pretoria

UNDP Resident Representative for South Africa, Mr. Gana Fofang, spoke of the value and benefit of eradicating poverty. “Work helps people escape poverty,’ he said. In addition, he discussed the importance of transformation in the workplace in achieving an inclusive environment. “Rethinking work and labour will have a dramatic impact and unprecedented change in human development,” Mr. Fofang said. He also focused on women and child labour and conceded that these two groups are the most vulnerable in the work place and are in dire need of protection.

The report highlights impressive progress on human development. Although considerable challenges remain, from persistent poverty and glaring inequalities to climate change, these all create barriers to people fully engaging in decent work. Ms Ntsoaki Mamashela, Employment Equity Director of Department of Labour was quick address the importance of women in the workplace. “Women are at the centre of their own development,” she said.


Regional Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Mr. Vic Van Vuuren. Photo: UNIC Pretoria

Regional Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Mr. Vic Van Vuuren, used anecdotes to relay the challenges facing the South African public and the implementation of some of the goals in the HDR. “When I was growing up a PC meant personal computer and nowadays it means power and corruption,” Mr. van Vuuren said. He stressed the fact that South Africa is going through a moral dilemma and that is why the country is in need of creating jobs that are sustainable for human lives to succeed.

The UN also released finding in its World Economic Situation and Prospects(WESP), produced by the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Charlotte du Toit of Plus Economics Advisory said that the WESP reveals that the world economy stumbled in 2015 with a modest improvement projected in 2016/17, as a number of cyclical and structural headwinds persist. The world gross product grew by a mere 2.4 per cent in 2015, and forecast to grow by 2.9 per cent and 3.2 per cent in 2016 and 2017, respectively.


Charlotte du Toit of Plus Economics Advisory. Photo: UNIC Pretoria

The report also highlights the major risks and challenges for Africa moving forward, which include weaker growth in major trading and financing partners (such as China and the euro area), declining commodity prices and currency depreciations. Besides, increases in interest rates in the United States which could divert investment flows from Africa, weather-related shocks and security issues, are further risks to Africa’s growth prospects.

Audience in attendance. Photo: UNIC Pretoria

Audience in attendance. Photo: UNIC Pretoria

The WESP 2016 and the HDR 2015, Reports are available on the following links;