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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

South Africa: Gender Statistics

South Africa: Gender Statistics
Date distributed (ymd): 980915
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +gender/women+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains the introduction, table of contents, and a few selected tables from the publication Women & Men in South Africa, released in August by the South African government's Central Statistics Service. The full report is available on the CSS web site (

For regularly updated announcements and press releases about reports on women's issues in South Africa and other countries, see South African Women's Net updates (

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Women & Men in South Africa

Central Statistics 1998

Dr FM Orkin, Head

Published by Central Statistics
Private Bag X44, Pretoria, 0001
South Africa

ISBN 0-621-28061-5

Author: Debbie Budlender, Directorate of Analysis and Statistical Consulting, Central Statistics (CSS)

Much of this report is based on data from the 1995 October household survey. The detailed statistical tables from that survey are available as 'October household survey', CSS statistical release P0317 (South Africa as a whole), and P0317.1 to P0317.9 (the nine provinces). These can be ordered from Central Statistics, Pretoria, in both printed and electronic format.


In May 1994, South Africa was reunited under a new, democratically elected government. The interim constitution under which the new government operated, and the final constitution which came into effect in 1997, established non-discrimination as one of the most important guiding principles for the country. In particular, the government has committed itself to abolition of the race and gender inequality which previously characterised the country.

The new government reaffirmed its commitment to gender equality when it ratified the international Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1995. In his March 1996 budget speech, the then Minister of Finance, Chris Liebenberg, promised that the government would disaggregate data by gender, introduce targets and indicators of gender equality, and develop a performance review mechanism in respect of gender.

At the time of the 1995 Beijing Conference on the status of women a number of countries produced booklets containing basic statistics on women and men. Although South Africa produced a narrative report for the conference, it was not yet ready to produce a 'Women and Men' statistical booklet. This report is South Africa's 'Women and Men' publication.

Gender statistics are urgently required. The Office on the Status of Women, the Commission on Gender Equality, and the gender desks within national departments and at provincial level, need information on the situation of women and men. All spheres of government need gender-disaggregated information to fulfil their planning functions. And, as time goes by, South Africans inside and outside government will want to measure whether policies and programmes are succeeding in addressing gender inequalities.

For the Central Statistical Service, this booklet also provides an opportunity to indicate the wealth of information that is available. While there are gaps in our information about many aspects of South African society, there is also a lot of data which is not being fully utilised, or has not been analysed. This report is an invitation to South Africans to improve levels of utilisation of what is available, and to make proposals on how the information base can be further expanded and improved.

What are gender statistics?

Gender statistics extend beyond disaggregation of indicators into the categories of women and men. They focus on issues of particular relevance to women and men, girls and boys, and their different roles and positions in society. Statistics on household distance from water or fuel, for example, have different implications for women and men. For it is usually women who spend additional time collecting these necessities of life when they are not readily available to a household.

Virtually every aspect of society has its gendered aspect. Not all issues are measurable, and data are not yet available on many of those issues which can be measured. Nevertheless, there are far more gender statistics available than can be presented in this short booklet.

In making choices about what should be covered, priority has been given to some of the standard indicators covered in 'Women and Men' booklets from other countries. This enables comparison of South Africa's progress with that of countries at similar levels of development, and with similar problems. However, indicators have been adapted to measure our special problems. In particular, many of the indicators are further disaggregated by population group, or urban and non-urban areas.

Most of the statistics in this booklet are derived from the Central Statistics' annual October household survey. During the 1995 survey, 30 000 households, selected so as to be representative of the full population, were visited. Questions were asked both about the household, and about each of the individual members of the households surveyed. The results of the survey were then 'weighted up' so as to give figures for the full population.

The weighting of the 1995 October household survey was based on estimates of the population derived from the 1991 population census. However, preliminary results from the 1996 population census, released in June 1997, suggested that we have been overestimating the size of the country's population by about ten percent (CSS, 1997). One of the more important causes of previous overestimation was that demographers thought that the fertility rate, particularly in non-urban areas, was higher than it now seems. This means that the 1996 census will also probably show a decrease in the proportion of the population under the age of five years, a decrease in those of school-going age, and a decrease among those who live in non-urban areas and what were previously constituted as 'homelands' or bantustans.

Final results from Census '96 will only be available in September 1998. Until then, the CSS does not have enough accurate detailed information to recalculate weights for surveys such as the OHS. Figures shown in this booklet, therefore, are based on previous estimates of the population. To reduce possible error, most figures are reported as percentages rather than as absolute numbers. Nevertheless, the expected change in age, geographical and other aspects of the population profile suggest that even the percentages presented may, on occasion, be slightly inaccurate.



The Provinces

Families & households: Income, Marital status, Childbearing, Children

Living conditions: Access to water, Access to wood, Refuse disposal

Work: Economic status, Hours worked, Work status, Employment by sector, Employment by occupation, Public service employment, Trade unions, Wages and salaries

Education and training: Preschool attendance, Educational achievement, Tertiary education, Skills training

Health: Life expectancy, Facilities, Medical aid, Contraception, HIV/Aids

Crime: Rape

Decision-making: National assembly, Provincial legislatures, Public service management,
Judicial officers



List of Figures

Figure 1: Distribution of the population by province and gender
Figure 2: Urbanisation by province and gender
Figure 3: Income distribution: national quintiles by gender of household head and non-urban/urban location
Figure 4: Distribution of marital status by age and gender
Figure 5: Form of marriage by population group and gender
Figure 6: Women who have given birth by marital status
Figure 7: Household location of young children in relation to parents, by population group
Figure 8: Households fetching water for domestic use by population group
Figure 9: Distance from water source among households fetching water for domestic use
Figure 10: Households fetching wood for domestic use by population group
Figure 11: Distance from source of wood among households fetching wood
Figure 12: Refuse disposal by population group
Figure 13: Economic status of those aged 15 years or more by population group and gender
Figure 14: Economic status by education level and gender: African people 15 years and older
Figure 15: Mean hours worked among employed by population group and gender
Figure 16: Type of employment by population group and gender
Figure 17: People working alone as a percentage of those self-employed by population group and gender
Figure 18: Employment distribution by economic sector and gender
Figure 19: Employment distribution by occupation and gender
Figure 20: Women in public service employment by level
Figure 21: Employees who are trade union members by population group and gender
Figure 22: Mean hourly earnings of employees by population group and gender
Figure 23: Degree holders in each income category by population group and gender
Figure 24: Children in preschool education by population group and age
Figure 25: Educational achievement of people aged 25 years or more by population group and gender
Figure 26: Percentage of 15-24 years olds who have not completed matric and want to study further by population group and gender
Figure 27: Reasons for non-completion of matric by gender
Figure 28: University and technikon enrolments and permanent staff by gender
Figure 29: Women and men aged 18 years or more attending skills training by population group
Figure 30: Life expectancy at birth by population group and gender
Figure 31: Where women under 55 years of age gave birth by population group
Figure 32: Distance to nearest health facility by population group
Figure 33: Access by adults to medical aid by population group and gender
Figure 34: Use of contraceptives by population group and gender
Figure 35: HIV prevalence among women attending antenatal clinics by population group, 1990-1995
Figure 36: Reported rapes per 100 000 of the population
Figure 37: National Assembly representatives by political party and gender
Figure 38: Percentage of women in each provincial legislature
Figure 39: Managers in the public service by population group and gender
Figure 40: Judges by population group and gender
Figure 41: Other judicial officers by gender

Figure 8: Households fetching water for domestic use by population group

Population Group Percentage Fetching Water

African             71%
Coloured            28%
Indian               3%
White                3%

Total               51%

Figure 22: Mean hourly earnings of employees by population group and gender

Population Group/Gender Rands per hour

African Women                 7,67
African Men                   8,61
Coloured Women                7,07
Coloured Men                  8,63
Indian Women                  11,99
Indian Men                    16,19
White Women                   17,58
White Men                     29,13

Figure 39: Managers in the public service by population group and gender

Population Group/Gender % of Managers in Public Service

African Women                  7%
African Men                   29%
Coloured Women                 1%
Coloured Men                   4%
Indian Women                   1%
Indian Men                     3%
White Women                    5%
White Men                     51%

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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