Gender, culture, and the state in South Africa empowerment and education

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Orzolek, London
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Female representation , Inequality , Policy , Poverty
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When looking at gender South Africa, there are obvious disparities that exist across the nation. According to the World Economic Forum, a Swiss NGO, South Africa is the 19th worst country in regard to gender inequality (France-Presse 2017; WEF 2017). While 19th place is nowhere near winning an unfortunate race, it is still incredibly high. The World Economic Forum report also stated that even though female representation in political institutions has increased, other disparities - like the gender pay gap (in South Africa, currently at 23%), have increased and that it would take decades to right these wrongs (France-Presse 2017). Despite the perception that South Africa is progressive in regard to gender equality, specifically in policy and in the constitutional law, public policy is not implemented in a way that can promote greater gender equality. One clear example of this is that women in South Africa have the right to legal abortion (with stipulations occurring after 12 weeks) , but access to facilities capable of performing abortions is limited due to factors such as social stigma, distance, cost, and the overall lack of such facilities (Driesens 2018). It is easy to see that there are gender disparities in South Africa, but what is more important is how these disparities intersect with one of the leading indicators of success and equality: education. Education has been seen as an equalizer of people around the world, as it allows access to opportunities like almost nothing else can. A good educational background often can provide the means to succeed and make it possible for some to break out of cycles of poverty and inequality. Gender disparities amplify other socio-cultural inequalities and gender is an additional barrier for women that reduces access to education. This paper explores the history of the education of black women in South Africa within the broader context of social inequality to demonstrate that education may be a key factor in the effort to combat gender disparity in South Africa and in efforts to help women break out of cycles of poverty and inequality.

Orzolek, London. 2019. Gender, culture, and the state in South Africa empowerment and education -- Lambda Alpha Journal, v.49, p.127-137
Wichita State University. Department of Anthropology
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