Over the last few decades many countries experienced an increase in the labour force participation of women. Much has been written on the feminisation of the labour force in both developed and developing countries around the world (Standing et al., 1996; Barker 1999). Klasen and Woolard (2000) found that global female labour force participation rates dramatically increased in the 1990s. In South Africa in the 1960s only 23 per cent of women were employed, by 1985 this figure had risen to 36 percent and by 2008 it had almost doubled to 45.5 per cent.
However, South African unemployment rates (both male and female) are still amongst the highest in the world. Unemployment is seen as one of the most pressing socio-political problems facing the government. In the third quarter of 2009, the unemployment rate stood at 23.3%. Women made up 57% of the not working group with 20% being unemployed and 80% were not economically active. During this quarter the number of employed people was lower than that registered in the second quarter of the same year. Comparisons of data between 2008 and 2009 show that, the number of unemployed persons increased substantially, with the annual increase among women higher than that of males (Statistics South Africa, 2009). This is despite steps taken to address gender equity in the country.
Despite the above steps taken to address women's oppression and gender equity, both at home and in the workplace the unemployment rate among women is still much higher than that of males. It is thus important to isolate factors that could still be playing a significant role in women's employment status. Thus, the main objective of the study is to investigate the role of socio-demographic factors in women's employment status. The socio-demographic factors include population group, age, level of education, province of residence and marital status.
The analyses are based on the Quarterly Labour Force Survey carried out by Statistics South Africa. The logistics regression revealed that there is a huge and important role that socio-demographic characteristics play in the employment status of women in South Africa. Through this study clear differences in characteristics between the employed women and unemployed women in the country are revealed.
Keywords: Women employment; Age, level of education; Marital Status; Province of residence
Biography: Ziyanda Ntlebi works for Statistics South Africa as a Field Operations Manager for Household based Surveys, her responsiblilities to training of all fieldworkers so as to ensure quality in the collected data. She has Bacher of Social Science Honours specialising in Gender Studies.