What is women’s work?
Progress towards women’s equality haven’t erased the fact that much work done by women is unseen and unvalued.
Women entering the paid labour market hasn’t meant that women don’t still do the vast majority of caring, housework and all the little things like organising social events, keeping in contact with family, and managing finances which keep society functioning.
Without this voluntary labour, all of the activity in the ‘formal economy’ simply couldn’t happen, and yet it is not counted as economically productive.
Why is this?
The economic calculations of governments and international financial institutions (like the International Monetary Fund which monitors the 'economic health' of countries) normally only see paid work as contributing to the economy. Of course we know that's not true, and it misses out the vast value to society of care work, volunteering and contributing to our communities.
- The UK household satellite accounts found that the value of informal childcare in 2010 was £343 billion – equivalent to 23% of GDP
- A recent OECD study indicates that around one third to a half of all valuable economic activity is not accounted for in traditional measures of economic performance ie GDP
Why is this an issue of women’s rights?
Women still do the majority of invisible work including housework, raising children and caring for vulnerable relatives. Don't believe us?
- 62% of unpaid carers are women (Census 2011). Twice as many female carers rely on benefits than male carers, at a rate of £1.55 per hour (Carers Scotland).
- From the 1970s to the 2000s, men’s core daily domestic work – cleaning and cooking – increased by a rate of about one minute per day per year.” (Beatrix Campbell, End of Equality)
- Women devote, on average, more than twice as much time to household work as men. (OECD)
- Across the globe women undertake the majority of unpaid care work – only one third of their total work activity is spent in market based paid work (OECD)
These issues have been compounded in recent years with the savage cuts to public services. Women are the first to bear the brunt of cuts, and are forced to take over services previously offered by the state.