The retail sector continues to be one of the largest employers of women in South Africa, providing a source of both livelihoods and income to many families and dependents.

Recruiters and retail workers representative bodies say women are employed in various customer-facing positions, however, fewer women occupy leadership roles in the retail sector.

President of the National Union of Retail Workers of South Africa, Victor Legoba, says of their 1368 members, the majority work in grocery stores.

He says female members make up 54% that work as cashiers, while around 45% of male members work as drivers and packers.

“You must remember Shoprite and Checkers they got many departments of which those departments are dominated by females. We’ve got daily departments, which have dominance of females. We’ve got cashiers, we’ve got cash office department, and we’ve got fruit and veggies. It’s those departments that are dominated by females.”

Staff Link recruitment founder, Karin Fivas, says although there’s been a greater demand for female workers among retailers, men continue to dominate senior roles in the sector.

“There is more demand for women in retail. There are well-trained women but men are still in senior positions. I feel that some women should be given an opportunity.”

The 2019 Good Business Journey report by Woolworths indicates that women represent 64% of their historically disadvantaged permanent employees.