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Gender Inequality In The Local Context Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1659 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Mauritius is a remote small open island economy. In geological time, it is a very young island, which emerged from waves of volcanic eruptions in the Indian Ocean over the last eight million years. A high degree of concentration and interpenetration of finance, agro industrial and merchant characterizes the economic structure of the country. The structure of formal employment consists of deep gender imbalance against women.

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The Economic and Social Indicators (ESI) on gender statistics represents women and men in the Republic of Mauritius. In 2011, Mauritius ranked 63rd out of 146 countries compared to 2008 it was ranked 46th out of 138 countries according to the Gender Inequality Index of the UN. The index reflects inequality in achievements between women and men in reproductive health, empowerment and labour market.

Before 1950’s it has been found that women were in fewer number than men in Mauritius. However, the female population has been growing rapidly such that in the 50’s there were almost equal numbers of men and women. As from 1990, women have been increasingly outnumbering men over the years. The sex ratio in the population, declined from 100.2 in 1972 to 97.3 in 2010 and it is expected to decrease further to reach 95.8 in 2050.

In 2011, it has been found that a lesser proportion of women than men of working age (16 years and above) were active, that is, in employment or looking for work. The economic activity rate for women was 43.7% against 75.5% for men. The active population stood at 582,800 with 363,600 men and 219,200 women compared to 2010, women was 43% compared to 76% for men, the active population stood at 581,300 with 362,400 men and 218,900 women.Men and women have a similar pattern of economic activity during their life that is less active at the younger and older age groups. The activity rates for both are highest in the age group 30 to 45 years.

Chart 13 – Activity rate (%) by age group and sex, 2011

Some 191,800 women held a job in 2011 and accounted for 35.7% of the Mauritian employed population. Working women were more qualified than their male counterparts, with 22% holding a tertiary qualification against 17% for men. There were an almost equal proportion of working men and women having a School Certificate but 7.4% women had a Higher School Certificate compared to 5% for men.

Chart 14 – Distribution of employed person by sector and sex, 2011

Both men and women had a high proportion of their working population in the tertiary sector (covering trade, hotels & restaurants, transport and other service industries), 68% for men and 57% for women. The secondary sector (covering manufacturing, electricity & water and construction) accounted for one third of the working men and one quarter of the working women. While women represented some 40% of the employment in the manufacturing sector, they comprised less than 1% of the construction industry.

Women were more likely than men to be employees, with 85% of the employed female in that employment status compared to 78% among the men. They were also much less likely than men to head their own business; while 21% of working men were employers or own accounts workers, only some 11% of women held that status.

On average an employed woman works 38 hours, 6 hours less than a man. However, women heading their own business and those contributing in the family business worked respectively 7.5 hours and 8.2 hours less than their male counterparts.

Both women and men worked fewer hours in the agricultural sector than in other sectors of the economy. However, women worked 10 hours less than men in that sector. Women worked 8 hours less in public administration, 5 hours less in hotels & restaurants and 3 hours less in manufacturing, trade & education sectors.

Women as well as men tend to work fewer hours at the older age. The difference in hours worked by women and men varies across ages; it increases with age to reach a peak of 8.3 hours at the age group 45 to 49 years, and decreases thereafter.

In spite of being fewer in the labour force, women are over represented among the unemployed. Unemployed women numbered 27,300 in 2011 compared to 18,800 men. Female unemployment rate stood at 12.5%, much higher than the rate of 5.2% for male.

Chart 16 – Unemployment rate (%) by age group and sex, 2011

Unemployment rate is higher among women than men at all ages, except for the elderly. The difference in unemployment rate is more pronounced at the very young age.Among unemployed women with previous work experience, 22% left their last job due to marriage, childbirth and household responsibilities. Another 13% women were unemployed following closure of establishment. The main sectors where the unemployed women worked previously are manufacturing (29%), trade (25%) and hotels and restaurants (10%).

On balance, there has been a dramatic change in the occupational and sectoral distribution of the labour market since, with the rising share in the manufacturing, and a declining share in agricultural and domestic service. Employer’s preference for women because of their natural and culturally defined attributes, as well as their adaptability, productivity and acceptance of lower wages in the past are some of the reasons accounting for the predominance of female labour mostly in the EPZ sector in Mauritius.

Despite increase in employment over the last couple decades, we can still see that there still exists gender disparity in the labour market. In addition, with increased occupational opportunities enjoyed by women, they are still faced with the burden of household responsibilities for example, as mentioned above, woman works 38 hours, 6 hours less than a man. This show woman career is still constrained with household occupations.

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The factors which have promoted labour force are: fertility reduction, increased life expectancy, economic hardships and wider aspirations beyond the confines of family and home. However, the main factors constraining higher participation of female Mauritian in the labour market are resistance by own family members, inability to make arrangement for childcare, housework exigencies, nurturing within the household, reproductive responsibilities and difficulties in managing the interface between home and work.

Therefore, women hit a class ceiling as far as the management in concerned. Such is generally the case despite higher academic achievement than men. This secondary role is also reflected in their working conditions and their position in society and family. While the concept of equity and equality should be established in the world of work, women have to be provided with wide opportunities and can be further encouraged to develop their aptitude and potential optimally.

Globalization in Mauritius can also be considered as a threat for widening the gap between men and women in the labour market and further creating gender inequalities. Trade expansion has increased women’s access to labour market, however, it worth pointing out that the vast majority of these jobs are low salary and low-skilled. In the light of existing gender inequalities, a widening gap between men and women in terms of access to economic resources and benefits to be derived from globalization can be foreseen.

Mauritian Law protecting against discrimination in workplace

The Constitution of Mauritius is regarded as being the supreme Law which clearly protects this philosophy of equality at Chapter 2 Section (3) and (16) which imparts for non discrimination as follows:

Section 3

”It is hereby recognized and declared that Mauritius there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedom of others and for the public interest each and all of the following human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

Section 16

Protection from discrimination

Subject to subsections (4), (5) and (7)-no law shall make any provision that discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

Subject to subsections (6), (7) and (8)- no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting in the performance of any public function conferred by any law or otherwise in the performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority.

The Government of Mauritius has also passed law to eliminate all forms of Gender Discrimination and sexual harassment in certain areas of public activity under Sex Discrimination Act No. 43 of 2002. This act protects a worker from all forms of inequality in employment related to recruitment, selection, training, on grounds of gender, marital status and family responsibilities.

Gap in literature

It has thus been seen that gender inequalities is apparent in all societies and many research has been done with the aim of improving the condition of people at work. In Mauritius, however, gender inequality is relatively a concept which is ignored despite many laws exist to eliminate any sort of discrimination. The measures undertaken by the government still remain at initial stage. There exists little research concentrating in the field of gender inequalities in the workplace of Mauritius. The gap in the literature is little because it has focused on only one dimension of gender inequalities. In Mauritius, however, the concept of gender inequalities in the labour market is buried. As a matter of fact, research is urgently required to determine the all the factors leading to occupational gender segregation and also find ways to improve the conditions of employees at work.


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