Women are slightly more satisfied with their own lives than at the time of the previous general election in 2009 – according to a recent survey conducted by global market research company Ipsos. Three in every ten (30%) South African women indicated that satisfaction with their own lives have improved compared to 26% who were of this opinion in 2009. In addition 54% of women believe that their children and the children of their family or friends have a bright future ahead of them.
These results form part of Ipsos’s “Pulse of the People” poll series, conducted between April and May this year.
When they comment about their families’ prospects for the future, a third (32%) say that their families’ lives will be better in a year’s time. In May 2009 this figure was closer to four in ten (39%).
“South Africans – and especially South African women – view the future with a measure of apprehension and these scores are fairly low. The slow economic growth, lingering unemployment and the uncertainty with regards to the ruling party and the future of the leadership of the ANC all contribute,” states Mari Harris, Public Affairs director at Ipsos. “There is much more room for improvement in terms of satisfaction with their lives and those of their families.”
Less than half of South Africans think that the country is going in the right direction – with 45% of South African women and a slightly more positive 47% of South African men expressing this opinion. (A third of South Africans are of the opinion that the country is heading in the wrong direction, while the balance of about a fifth are undecided on this measure.
You strike a woman, you strike a rock
Reviewing the issue of women’s rights in South Africa, there are still aspects of inequality and 14% of women (and 13% of men) disagree with the statement “Over the last 18 years I have seen an improvement in the area of women’s rights”. About six in every ten of both women (57%) and men (58%) agree with this statement – however, in May 2009 almost two thirds (65%) of women agreed – thus the experience of equality in society is not as strong as a few years ago. When looking at certain specific aspects of equality or inequality it becomes clear as to why these opinions pervade.
- Almost a third of men in South Africa (30%) are of the opinion that when jobs are scarce, men should have more right to jobs than women. “This is a disappointing statistic, considering the rise in single female households and single mother families in South Africa in recent years,” states Harris. “What is even more surprising is that there is a significant percentage of women (21%) who are of the same opinion.”
- Almost a fifth (18%) of women believe that a women’s place is in the house and 62% of women disagree with this (considerably lower than the 70% who disagreed in 2009). The rest is undecided or do not know. More than a fifth (22%) of men agree.
- Less than half (46%) of women and an even smaller proportion of men (38%) disagree that political leaders are better if they are male rather than female.
- Only two thirds (65%) of women – and 63% of men – disagree with the statement that a boy has more right to education than a girl, regardless of the guarantees of equality in our constitution and
“These percentages have also decreased over the years,” continues Harris. “In 2009 there was stronger opposition to these statements – with 80% of women then disagreeing that males have more right to education. This points to more entrenched and growing gender inequality than there was 3 years ago.”
Employment and Education
Only 31% of women in South Africa are employed full-time or part-time compared to 46% of males. This is not a matter of choice as might be argued, as a higher proportion of women (33%) report that they are looking for jobs, as opposed to only 27% of men. “Unemployment is a major issue in our country, but it seems to affect women even harder than men,” says Harris, “despite the fact that there is very little difference in their levels of education.”
- Fieldwork was carried out from 13 April to 18 May 2012 by trained and experienced fieldworkers
- Face-to-face in-home interviews were conducted with a randomly chosen sample of 3 565 South Africans, 15 years and older, in the language preferred by the respondent.
- The results were weighted and projected to the universe (i.e. adult South Africans).