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Goal 5: Gender equality

Goal 5: Gender equalityAchieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Despite the importance of women in the global response to COVID-19, they remain underrepresented in leadership positions, subjected to violence and disadvantaged by discriminatory laws, while also carrying a disproportionate burden of unpaid domestic and care work.

Research into gender and equality at UCT takes place in and across several dedicated research groups.

The School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics (AXL), launched in 2012, merged four previously distinct departments: the African Gender Institute; the Centre for African Studies, and the departments of social anthropology and linguistics.

The African Gender Institute has worked to deepen the exchange between Muslim female academics, women from the community and others seeking to promote inclusivity in Islam.

Since 2012, the AIDS and Society Research Unit, part of the Centre for Social Science Research at UCT, has been working to change attitudes towards teen pregnancy in South Africa. The researchers here have led the largest known mixed-methods, community-based study on anti-retroviral treatment adherence and sexual health among adolescents: Mzantsi Wakho.

Although accurate statistics are hard to come by, South Africa clearly suffers from high levels of gender-based violence, which disproportionately affects women. The Gender Health and Justice Research Unit (GHJRU) works to improve service provision to victims of crime, violence and human rights violations, facilitate violence prevention, and promote access to justice in Southern and Eastern Africa through interdisciplinary research, advocacy and education.

UCT is also is committed to increasing the number of women researchers, particularly in areas where they are scarce. One of the ways it has undertaken this is by awarding substantial scholarships to women and transgender researchers at UCT under the banner Advancing womxn: a call for change. Ocean Womxn is one of the initiatives.

Another, “Unsettling knowledge production on gendered and sexual violence in South Africa” aims to shift the ways of thinking about and conducting research on gender-based violence. This project has engaged with, among other things, work on social media and other forms of activism against gender-based violence, black transgender women’s experiences of violence, women’s experiences of violence during the COVID-19 pandemic and digital sexism.