With gender equality in the spotlight, a talking point which often surfaces is the economic and other consequences of traditional beliefs about “women’s work". One project with research teams from around the world – including the University of Cape Town – has been bringing into perspective the economic lives of women and girls more comprehensively. Since the Counting Women’s Work Project started in 2013, UCT’s Development Policy Research Unit has been driving the South African contribution under the leadership of the unit’s deputy-director, Morné Oosthuizen. Earlier this year, he released a second project working paper which addresses the problem of women’s economic contributions being underestimated due to unpaid care work within the household. The country team’s findings on South Africa’s gendered economy and household economies make for interesting reading.
In July, South Africa reported to the United Nations on the country’s progress to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The SDGs are committed to “leave no one behind”. This principle includes disabled people, which is a welcome first: the SDGs are the first international call to action to include disabled people since the primary healthcare Alma Ata conference 50 years ago. To monitor and measure progress on the inclusion of people with disabilities poses a challenge, though, as they are as a hidden and hard-to-reach population. Contributing to this research agenda is a programme in the Faculty of Health Sciences which aims to establish a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to track the implementation of policies and programmes on access to sexual and reproductive health for persons with disabilities.
A few weeks ago, PII member and director of UCT’s Development Policy Research Unit, Prof. Haroon Bhorat, gave a presentation at the World Bank’s Africa Economics Seminar series, in Washington D.C., on invitation from the Office of the Chief Economist in the Africa Region. Speaking about "Wage polarisation in a high inequality emerging economy: The case of South Africa", Prof. Bhorat discussed the "missing middle", and shared some of the DPRU research on wage polarisation in South Africa. During his visit, he was interviewed for the World Bank’s Afronomics Podcast series, which focuses on the most recent economic trends that are impacting growth and development on the African continent.
Data gaps have been identified as one of the main constraints in achieving international development goals. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which comprise a total of 17 goals, 169 targets and 232 individual indicators, pose an even greater data challenge for governments than the previous Millennium Development Goals. Lynn Woolfrey, manager of UCT’s DataFirst unit, told a recent SDGs seminar hosted by the African Centre for Cities that the SDG process can also be an opportunity for governments to build better policy data systems.