Women’s work continues to be unacknowledged


When a couple’s marriage has reached the point where they visit a lawyer’s office to put the final touches on the settlement, inevitably questions must be asked: What are the reasons for the dissolution of such a significant relationship?

The answers, most often, are found in domestic abuse, which ranks as the number one reason for divorce.

The second ranked reason for marital failure is often, “He simply did not help enough around the house,” or, “He did not help me with the children nor did he help me with the household chores.”

While domestic abuse deserves worldwide attention, surely the second reason must be discussed as well.

Not only should husbands and fathers be informed of the central importance of helping with housework – we must also inform the so-called leaders of the G8 nations who periodically sit around tables in lush circumstances, the air filled with self-congratulations.

They too must acknowledge the vital contribution women make through their unpaid devotion to house and home.

Peggy Kome, author of Somebody Has To Do It: Whose Work is Housework? wonders why we continue to ignore these contributions.

Economists consistently warn that the colossal market economy simply could not exist without the often “invisible” labor of women’s unpaid housework.

The free market economy worldwide rides quite happily on the backs of the many women of the world.

In the near future, women’s unpaid work and its implications for the economy must be on the agenda when the G8 meets again.

If it were not so tragic it might be laughable to see the world’s industrial and political leaders, mostly male, sitting around a table discussing economies, trade, monetary and labor policies, which rarely reflect the contributions made by women everywhere.

Indeed, I might argue that the very foundations of the world’s economy, already in dire straits, might crumble were women to go on strike.

Social and economic justice dictates that we should sing paeans of praise to women everywhere, who continue to dedicate themselves to their homes and families.

Given the implications of their work, policies should also reflect their devotion and their sacrifices in terms of tax exemptions, basic living wages for domestic work and child-care, fully paid maternity leaves, etc.

Am I optimistic that the G8 leaders will acknowledge Cinderella’s contributions and develop policies reflecting them? No.

Just as we saw with the mean stepmother and her two terrible stepsisters, the G8 leaders will continue in their ignorant ways.

But you and I can make some productive noise, can’t we?

Womens work statistics:

  • The value of women’s housework is equal to nearly 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

  • Women do 2/3 of the work in the world, earn 5% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s real estate property.

– The value of women’s unpaid work at home at about $11 trillion annually.

– Men in dual-career households contribute less than 1/3 of the effort required to complete all household tasks.

– Employed mothers averaged 87 hours per week of paid and unpaid work while comparable figures for men ranged from 17 to 30 hours a week fewer than employed mothers.

Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.