Women’s rights: still far off from the final battle
The work women carry out in the household is not remunerated or financially compensated. In fact, this mass of work provided by women in the home with their family is not even evaluated; it isn’t at all! As if they don’t formally get up and go to their places of work every morning, to do their often intensive, always stressful daily labour, which is an intangible domain, ignored by a society which never takes a step back to quantify and evaluate it when it suits it.
However, measuring the work accomplished by women in the family nest then compiling the data into statistics would be of such a nature as to inflect – at the very least to guide and enlighten – a range of decision-making in investments capable of creating jobs. Oh yes, taking the work of stay-at-home women into account would be well and truly likely to pull many of them (along with their families) out of precarity, and would therefore have a positive impact on economic growth. So why not systematically quantify, estimate, and index these household chores such as cooking, cleaning, child-minding and caring for the elderly which are carried out on a daily basis – indeed day and night -, by an overwhelming majority, by women?
It would suffice to attribute a given value to each of these tasks, whether according to the number of hours spent accomplishing them and their difficulty, or by estimating the price paid to employ one or several people to replace the stay-at-home woman. After all, women go without remuneration that they would certainly get in everyday life if they hadn’t made the choice to stay at home. Isn’t it shocking (according to UN statistics) that an Indian woman accomplishes 6.5 times more unpaid tasks than an Indian man? It is by this yardstick that we must – also – measure a country’s level of wealth because this disparity becomes negligible when we compare the difference between the unpaid work of Indian men and women with that of Norwegian men and women.
It makes intuitive sense that the disparity between women’s and men’s unpaid work tends towards zero in comfortable nations, with women enjoying all the benefits of social security, retirement packages, being on the payroll, professional training etc. In reality, the situation for women is actually more insidious because even women who are active and paid in everyday life are most often forced to accept jobs that fall below their skill level – and are therefore paid less than men – due to the focus and effort needed to accomplish household tasks concurrently. What’s more, the constant flexibility demanded by their responsibilities both at work and at home culminates in an inferior professional standing for them in relation to men, who thus find themselves de facto in a position of power and therefore bestowed with better pay.
Consequently, women must often settle for part-time work, allowing them to maintain the balancing act while juggling work and household chores, or accept full-time work which barely meets their qualifications but which nonetheless allows them to keep on top of their chores. The McKinsey firm has estimated that the payment of a minimum wage salary in each country to unpaid stay-at-home women would propel global GDP by 13%! A country like India would thus see its own GDP soar 39%. These intolerable inequalities that make women professionally inferior, spare wheels at work, therefore have a very harmful effect on every nation’s economic growth.