n South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences - Expanding the suite of measures of gender-based discrimination : gender differences in ablution facilities in South Africa




International treaties, national legislation and local by-laws all advocate the equal treatment of men and women, but claims of gender-based discrimination continue. Indicators of discrimination against women, including employment ratios and differences in income, show that there have been considerable gains in the recent past. These measures are, however, often biased. In this study a different, specific and concrete method of describing and detecting discrimination is presented, namely the difference in the number of ablution facilities provided for each gender group in public spaces. Ablution facilities at airports, train stations and shopping centres in four major South African cities (N=128) were inspected. Medium to large differences in the respective number of facilities were found (eta2 .05 to .13), with women receiving fewer service facilities than men. These results suggest that, despite progressive legislation and vigorous affirmative action in South Africa, local women are still being discriminated against on a very concrete, visible level. The effectiveness of the measurement tool is also discussed.


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