Remuneration and gender equality in Africa

K2 Corporate Mobility, remuneration in Africa
The study of gender discrimination is by no means a new phenomenon- as early as 1919 the International Labour Organisation recognised the need for equal pay for work of equal value. With Africa’s rapidly accelerating role in the global economy, Dr. Mark Bussin discusses Africa’s approach to gender influence and remuneration.

In 2013, the World Economic Forum released a paper, reporting a staggering 33% differential between male and female pay in South Africa. Dr. Mark Bussin, chairman of the 21st Century Pay Solutions Group releases extracts from his forthcoming book, analysing some of the approaches taken by African countries, to control and reduce gender inequality...

Gender discrimination is not restricted to remuneration, it manifests in various guises. A 2013 World Bank and IFC report finds legal and regulatory barriers to women’s economic inclusion have decreased over the past 50 years globally, but many laws still hinder women’s participation in the economy.

Laws restricting women’s economic activity are currently most prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. During the 50 year period following 1960 more than half the restrictions on women’s property rights and ability to conduct legal transactions were removed in the 100 economies studied. The Middle East and North Africa remain the least reformed regions in the world. The same can be said for legislation covering domestic violence and sexual harassment. These two regions have the thinnest legislation pertaining to these issues.

The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) compiled by the OECD indicates that 9 of the bottom 10 countries in the world are from Sub Saharan Africa. Remarkably, South Africa is ranked at number 4 in the top 10. 

Existing law in Africa

Many of the African countries take legal steps to protect the rights of women in work. These include:

  • South Africa: The Employment Equity Act requires income differential statements as part of the annual employment equity reports submitted to the Department of Labour. Remuneration data supplied is broken down into occupational category level, disaggregated by race and gender. If “disproportionate differentials” are reported employers are expected to take appropriate measures in their employment equity plans to reduce or eliminate these differentials.
  • Angola: The General Labour Act specifically defines equal pay for work of equal value.
  • Chad: The Labour Code states that the different elements of remuneration should be determined according to identical standards for men and women. The criteria for promotion, job categorisation and classifications should be the same for both genders.
  • Kenya: The Kenyan Employment Act pledges that for any allegation of remuneration discrimination “the employer shall bear the burden of proving that the discrimination did not take place as alleged”. Labour inspectors are tasked with establishing equal pay for work of equal value using standard statistical methodologies.
  • Morocco: The Guide for Inspections in Morocco prepared by the Ministry of Employment and Vocational Training (in collaboration with the ILO) specifically refers to Gender discrimination when inspecting conditions of work and remuneration.


Over the coming decades, Sub-Saharan Africa stands poised to experience economic growth at rates unprecedented for the region. Realisation of this goal will depend on multiple factors, and there is still much work to be done to reduce and eradicate gender discrimination in Africa.

Despite this, all points to steps are being taken in the right direction- In 2010 Kenyans voted for changes to the Constitution that would grant women equal rights in the family, marriage and property rights. The age of consent for marriage has been increased to 18 in Botswana, Madagascar and Mozambique. Ethiopia’s Land Administration Committees are now required to have at least one female member, and finally, in 2009, Rwanda passed the Law on the Prevention, Protection and Punishment of any Gender based violence.

About the author: Dr. Mark Bussin, 21st Century Pay Solutions
Dr. Mark Bussin is Chairman of 21st Century Pay Solutions Group, a specialist reward consultancy, and has remuneration experience across a wide range of industry sectors. Mark has acted as guest lecturer at the University of Johannesburg and North West University, and is an EXCO member of SARA (South African Reward Association). Alongside his other roles, Dr. Bussin is Commissioner in the Presidency as a member of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, advising on the remuneration and conditions of employment for the South African President, Deputy, Ministers, Judges, Magistrates, Parliament and Traditional Leaders.

The above article is extracted from Dr. Bussin’s new book on Expatriate Compensation- to be released in 2015. 


Dr. Mark Bussin (2015). Expatriate Compensation. Available 2015.

IMAGE RIGHTS (edited): JDR (2009). Money Money Money. Available at: License here.