Johannesburg: 27 August: With an average score of 62%, gender attitudes in South Africa are gradually changing for the better, but evidence of deep-seated patriarchal attitudes is still strong. For example, while 52% of women and men agree or strongly agree that “women and men should be treated the same”, 43% agree or strongly agree that “a woman should obey her husband.”

These are among the key findings of the South African Gender Progress Study (GPS) administered to 8,387 women and men of all age groups in South Africa between January 2019 and May 2021. The report will be launched on Monday 30 August at 13.00 to 14.30 together with regional findings on this link: https://genderlinks-org-za.zoom/us/j/8254028597 as part of a wrap up to Women’s Month.

The GPS is administered by country focal networks of the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance coordinated by Gender Links to better understand different perspectives on gender equality, so as to target efforts to change attitudes and behaviour in more effectively. The Alliance comprises women’s rights networks across SADC that campaigned for the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development adopted in 2008 and produce an annual Barometer to track progress against its provisions.

In South Africa, the Alliance is led by South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID) which coordinated the research with input from 51 organisations across the country that form part of the Women Voice and Leadership (WVL) partnership. WVL is supported by Global Affairs Canada. The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (UNTF) also supported the research.

The GPS consists of 25 questions that respondents either strongly agree, agree, or disagree, strongly disagree with. The responses are rated on a scale of zero (least progressive) to 100 most progressive.

On a positive note, relatively low percentages agreed or strongly agreed that “disabled boys should have priority over disabled girls to special needs facilities and services” (14%); “if a man beats his wife, it shows that he loves her (14%); families should spend less money on the education of their daughters than of their sons (15%).

Worrying findings include low percentages of those who agreed or strongly agreed that “a woman can refuse to have sex with her husband” (49%) and “men should share the work around the house with women such as doing dishes, cleaning, and cooking” (46%). It is also worrying that only 34% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that “a woman should be able to choose to terminate her pregnancy in the first three months of her pregnancy.”

Female respondents had higher gender attitude scores than male respondents. Overall, women scored 63% compared to men (61%). Although for some questions responses between male and female respondents were similar, for most female respondents held more progressive gender attitudes than male respondents.

The research grouped GPS questions into six clusters: gender-based violence, Harmful practices, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), Sexual diversity, Media, and General questions. Men held more negative gender attitudes in relation to gender-based violence questions, SRHR, harmful practices questions, and general questions than female respondents held. Women and men had the least different views on sexual diversity and media.

Young people in the younger than 18 age bracket had lower scores (58%) than respondents between the ages of 25 and 50 with a mean score of 64%. This is disappointing in a country where the majority population are young, and high hopes are being pinned on them in the 2030 #GenerationEquality campaign.

Respondents with tertiary and vocational level education had higher scores (66%), than respondents with only a vocational level of education (59%). The over-riding finding of the GPS is that patriarchy is alive and well in all countries, all ages, and all levels of education. There are no short cuts to accelerating advocacy campaigns to change those attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate gender inequality.

(For further information please contact Nomthandazo Mankazana Mokoa- WVL Grants Coordinator,, or phone 082 560 0066)