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What Does $10 Trillion Look Like? It’s The Value Of Women’s Housework!

Posted: March 15, 2019

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In the last few decades women across the world have stormed almost every profession with élan, but it has led to a double burden on women, especially in conventional societies like India where women’s work in homes and families is still almost invisible.

The traditional Indian concept of a household largely persists and presumes that certain jobs within the household are to be performed only by women – housekeeping, child and elderly care, cooking, cleaning are all considered to be a woman’s responsibility by default. In addition there is also the expectation of emotional labour required for holding families together, resolving every day conflicts and sustaining patriarchal status quo within families.

Oxfam which is an international confederation of 20 NGOs working with partners in over 90 countries to end the injustices that cause poverty, has recently asserted that – “inequality has a “female face” in India, where women are less likely to have paid work when compared to men.”

Unpaid work done by women across the globe amounts to a staggering $10 trillion a year, which is 43 times the annual turnover of the world’s biggest company Apple, an Oxfam study said.

The report, released before the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, also stated that women and girls are hardest hit by rising economic inequality, including in India.

Some glaring India specific facts it stated are:

  • In India, the unpaid work done by women looking after their homes and children is worth 3.1 per cent of the country’s GDP.
  • Women spend 312 minutes per day in urban areas and 291 minutes per day in rural areas on such unpaid care work, it added. This means about a staggering five and a quarter hours every single day, and the same women then are expected to go out and earn too. Men, as compared pay solely 29 minutes in urban and 32 minutes in rural areas on unpaid care work
  • Among the richest in India in the 119-member billionaires club there are only 9 women in the country
  • The existing wage gap is still huge therefore households dependent primarily on female earners are poorer, the study said, referring to the India’s gender pay gap at a huge 34 percent
  • India has 108th ranking on the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index of 2018, 10 spots lower than in 2006 and falling short of the global average and some of its neighbours like China and Bangladesh too.

Oxfam said that India’s deeply patriarchal society and other intersections of caste, class, religion, age and sexual orientation have further implications on women inequality as a process.

The unpaid value of housework and childcare is clearly not evident to most people. Maybe it’s time for homemakers to start pointing people to this $10 trillion figure the next time anyone asks them what they do all day!

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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.

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