Most work done by women ‘is unpaid’

Business

Most of the work done by women around the world is unpaid, according to a new Oxfam report.

The charity estimates around 65% of women’s working hours are not remunerated and said official statistics should be changed to recognise their contribution.

Oxfam said its analysis of international labour data also found that 45% of weekly work done by both men and women globally was unpaid care.

It said domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning, which are often carried out by women globally, are also not valued in economic figures and measures such as GDP (gross domestic product).

Oxfam described the measurement as “anti-feminist and colonial because it sustains a framework of value creation and productivity that only counts what can be monetised”.

“Women are rendered to the ‘private’ sphere and their work is invisible,” the charity added.

It comes after separate research earlier this year found that the value of unpaid care in England and Wales is almost equivalent to a second NHS, with workers saving the government £162bn per year in wages.

Female workers in terrace rice fields, Mu Cang Chai, near Sapa, Northern Vietnam (Gavriel Jecan / VWPics via AP Images)
Image:
Many women, such as this rice field worker in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam, juggle childcare with other work. Pic: AP

Another study by the Centre for Progressive Policy thinktank also found women in the UK provided more than twice as much unpaid childcare per year as men – 23.2 billion hours compared with 9.7 billion hours.

Oxfam report author Anam Parvez accused governments of being “fixated” on GDP, and said policies should instead be “guided by a set of metrics that look at the whole picture”.

She added: “Women are being short-changed the world over, pushed deeper into time and income poverty.

“To add insult to injury, the majority of their work is ignored by official statistics. Unpaid care is a hidden subsidy to the global economy; without it the system would collapse.”

Read more:
Social care system ‘would collapse’ without 4m unpaid carers

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The UK government said traditional economic measures, such as GDP, remained some of the most useful indicators of economic performance, but acknowledged it had limitations.

A spokesperson said the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had been provided with an additional £25m to improve economic statistics.

The agency has said it is “working on radical plans to go ‘beyond GDP'”, including “new and innovative metrics reflecting the impact of economic change on people and the environment”.

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