On 16th of March at the University of Johannesburg’s Astro Hockey Club the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) launched the Gender, Health and World of Work Programme (Gender@Work Programme). This programme is an initiative to help mainstream gender concerns in the world of work in South Africa and bring the sustainable development goals of health, decent work, gender equity, youth employment and sustainable economies to the forefront of occupational health in South Africa.

The event was opened by the NHLS’s CEO, Joyce Mogale; the NIOH’s Executive Director, Sophia Kisting; the NIOH’s choir and the event’s MC, Odette Abrahams.  The CEO and Executive Director both spoke with passion on how they envisioned OHS in South Africa becoming more gender-responsive and how the event would help to facilitate this change.

Keynote speakers for the day included the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Specialists on Gender and Occupational Safety & Health, Mwila Chigaga and Franklin Muchiri, respectively; the Department of Labour’s Director of Health and Hygiene, Milly Ruiters; the Department of Mineral Resources Director of Occupational Medicine, Duduzile Lekoba; the Programme Manager and Regional Coordinator for the Swedish Workplace HIV/AIDS Programme (SWHAP), John Viner and Jacob Graaf,  respectively; the Director of the Gender Research Alliance, Grania Mackie; a legal advisor from the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) Masilo Lesoalo; and the Governance and Gender Justice Manager from Gender Links, Mariatu Fonnah. The keynote speakers covered various aspects of gender responsiveness in the world of work: from the legal frameworks and industry-specific challenges, to the implementation of pilot projects and audit tools on gender.

The programme was rounded up by personal moving accounts of gender and disability discrimination, as well as research insights, from a Round Table Discussion featuring Lazarus Magana, Gabriel Mizan, Yumna Moosa and Kerry Wilson. The discussion also yielded recommendations and active engagement from participants (please see the full article in OHSA journal for further details).

The NIOH will be organizing a follow-up meeting for March 8th, 2017 to report on collective progress made on gender concerns in the world of work. The NIOH also wishes to express earnest gratitude to all who participated in the launch. We look forward to continued relations between new and old stakeholders.

For more information contact the NIOH Gender, Health and the World of Work Programme @ kerryw@nioh.ac.za

Report by: Samantha Jack
Photographs: Guy Hall

*The full article is published in Occupational Health Southern Africa Vol 22 No 2 March/April 2016.