(AA) Women in Global Economy

esperanto (lingvoj@lds.co.uk)
Sun, 30 Jun 1996 21:37:44 +0200

>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 10:07:30 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Judy Michaud <webwrite@grannyg.bc.ca>
>To: women-l@helix.net
>Subject: unpaid work in the global economy
>Reposted to women-l with permission from Penney Kome
>>Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 10:18:21 -0600 (MDT)
>>From: "Penney J. Kome" <kome@freenet.calgary.ab.ca>
>>To: beijing95-l@netcom.com
>>Subject: unpaid work in the global economy
>>Sender: owner-beijing95-l@netcom.com
>>Reply-To: beijing95-l@netcom.com
>>Content-Length: 9712
>> Further to the posting about including work done in the home in
>>the Canadian census, I'm sending a synthesis of my own research, IWCN
>>postings and Marilyn Waring's analysis. IMO, this is an area that deserves
>>much greater study.
>> cheers, Penney
>> Move over, Martha Stewart. There's more to housework than just gracious
>>living. At the first meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
>>since the Beijing conference, evaluating unremunerated work was high on
>>the agenda. For starters, the UN estimates that unpaid work in the home is
>>worth the equivalent of $16 trillion annually--work that is deliberately
>>and specifically excluded from macroeconomics and official global
>>accounting systems. Not too surprisingly, most of that work is done by
>> Subscribers to the Beijing-conf mailing list recently received an
>>invitation to the International Women Count Network meeting, to review
>>what was achieved at Beijing, and plan strategies for the future. IWCN
>>takes its name and inspiration from the book, IF WOMEN COUNTED, by former
>>New Zealand MP Marilyn Waring. IWCN membership includes women from
>>developing nations and women with experience as domestic workers.
>> From the IWCN invitation:
>> --This estimate [$16 trillion] includes the value of the unpaid work
>>performed by women and men as well as the value of the underpayment of
>>women's work in the market at prevailing wages. Of this $16 trillion, $11
>>trillion is the non-monetized `invisible' contribution of women." [UNDP
>>Human Development Report, 1995]
>> --It had never seemed reasonable that calculations of a country's
>>Gross Domestic Product, the standard of its wealth and development, should
>>omit what could be 25% to 50% or more of its economic productivity: the
>>unpaid work performed largely but not exclusively by women in providing
>>for their families." [INSTRAW Update: Measuring Unpaid Work, October 1995]
>> Economists have joked for decades, maybe centuries, that if a
>>bachelor hires a housekeeper and pays her for housekeeping, then her work
>>is counted as a contribution to the Gross National Product. If, however,
>>the housekeeper marries and continues doing the very same work--without
>>pay-- then her work is no long counted as part of the GNP.
>> Household organizers are the first to devalue their work, as I
>>discovered when I collated 3200 questionaires and conducted more than 30
>>in-depth interviews for my first book, published by McClelland & Stewart
>>in 1982 as SOMEBODY HAS TO DO IT: Whose Work Is Housework? Indeed, some
>>interviewees specifically denied that housework that produced goods with
>>definite dollar value--such as sewing family clothes, or growing
>>vegetables for the family table--could be described as housework. Why? "I
>>enjoy it," said one.
>> Estimating the value of work done in the home is a tricky
>>business. The method most commonly used is to break down the long,
>>seamless, workday into separate services and estimate their market value
>>if purchased outside the home. The***dollar value of replacing each task
>>in the marketplace thus derived***is well above the median income for US
>>or Canadian households. The kicker in this method is that childcare
>>involves quite a lot of waiting-around time--eg, on-call time, similar to
>>fire-fighters hanging around the fire hall, or interns napping next door
>>to the ER. It's still duty time, even if it doesn't always seem
>> In 1982, I calculated that replacing the domestic services of an
>>at-home spouse with two pre-school children would be $257.53 a week, or
>>$13,364 a year. That's for 99.6 hours a week--as nursemaid (44 hrs),
>>housekeeper (17.5 hrs), cook (13.1 hrs), dishwasher, launderer, food
>>buyer, gardener, chauffeur, maintenance worker, clothes mender, dietician
>>and practical nurse. In 1994, Statistics Canada estimated that the cost
>>of *replacing* the unwaged work of a woman at home (with at least one
>>pre-school child) at $26,310.
>> Yet, because at-home spouses are deemed to work for *love* (really
>>they work for room & board), they are usually referred to as *dependents*,
>>if there's a breadwinner around. Women raising children on their own
>>usually have a choice: they can claim welfare and be called *parasites*,
>>or they can find outside jobs and be accused of not caring enough for
>>their children. Married women with children, who also have jobs outside
>>the home, usually still retain the major responsibility for organizing,
>>supervising and carrying out domestic chores. Statistics Canada recently
>>found that they average two hours a day more in housework than their male
>> The significance of this unpaid contribution becomes clearer when
>>we start looking at global figures. Statistics Canada's estimate for the
>>total value of household work in Canada is $284.9 B for Billion, or nearly
>>forty percent of the GDP. That's what conservatives mean when they call
>>for a return to so-called family values--an enormous pool of unpaid
>>workers who can be omitted from consideration when it's time to draw up
>>national policies such as childcare, health care, unemployment insurance,
>>pensions, or social assistance.
>> Especially in the Nasty Nineties, governments try to balance their
>>budgets by pushing work out of caregiving professions (such as teaching,
>>nursing and social work) and back into the unpaid sphere of domestic life
>>and volunteers. And with six in ten women in the workforce, earning
>>entitlements to pensions, unemployment insurance, sick leave and other
>>benefits in their own right, suddenly governments (Canadian governments at
>>least) are swinging to basing entitlements on *FAMILY* income, rather than
>>individual earnings, thus reinstating women's apparent dependent status.
>> In addition, the fact that women take charge of unpaid work in
>>the home carries over to the paid workforce. It drags down the market
>>value of caregiving work, from maintenance to teaching and nursing, and
>>limits the value that employers are willing to pay women no matter how
>>well women perform in any jobs, traditional or non-traditional.
>> The Beijing-conf mailing list also carried excerpts from a
>>Secretary-General's report presented to the recent UN CSW session, which
>>stated, "Women's and men's use of time is different and unequal." In both
>>developed and developing countries, women -- whether mothers or not
>>--generally work much longer than men in both developed and developing
>>countries. Women's increased participation in the work force has an impact
>>on children, especially girls, and on relationships within the family,
>>especially with men.
>> "The double burden of working women could be a principal cause for
>>their predominance in low status and low paid employment and often
>>precarious working conditions, offering them little income, job security
>>and prospects for advancement," the Secretary-General found.
>> On a worldwide scale, the UN has found that women do two-thirds of
>>the work in the world, receive less than 10 percent of the world's income,
>>and own less than one percent of the world's real property. Figures
>>released at the Beijing conference indicate that of the $16 trillion in
>>unpaid work worldwide, most of it ($11 trillion worth) is done only by
>>women. Yet, because that work is not part of the monetary economy, most
>>projects implemented by organizations from the developed world, ignore
>>women's struggles to feed and support their families. Instead, foreign
>>agencies consult with the local men, and impose expensive and ill-fated
>>projects, directed at bringing developing nations into the monetary
>> For instance, subsistence agriculture is specifically excluded
>>from IMF & World Bank calculations. Therefore, IMF & World Bank projects
>>often evict mothers & their families from small patches of arable
>>land--where they are, at least, reasonably well nourished--to create huge
>>plantations with cash crops. The nation's GDP flourishes, but the children
>>go hungry.
>> Such a huge blind spot provides a clue to other major flaws with the
>>current economic system. When Marilyn Waring dug deeply into the UN
>>library to analyse the global accounting system, she found other glaring
>>omissions. For example, no economic value is imputed to pristine
>>wilderness areas. The Alaska coastline putatively had no economic value,
>>until the Exxon Valdez disaster created an economic bonanza in clean-up
>> A healthy child is economically neutral. A sick child who requires
>>expensive medical care, generates economic activity, and thus increases
>>the GDP. Peace has no market value, but war cranks the world economic
>>machinery into a frenzy. Marilyn Waring found that the whole world
>>economy--IMF, World Bank and all--originated with a thin pamphlet printed
>>in the UK after the First World War, dealing with the question of how to
>>pay for the war. We've all been paying for wars, ever since.
>> While formerly socialist countries struggle with the collapse of
>>socialism, and currently capitalist countries struggle with the
>>concentration of wealth in trans-national corporations, the UN is quietly
>>undertaking the most radical economic analysis of all--an analysis of the
>>world's economy calculated as if women's work counted. And the
>>contributions of ordinary women make Martha Stewart's reputed $180 million
>>empire look paltry.