The Unpaid Care Work Provided By Women Adds Up To $10.8 Million Annually

January 23, 2020  |  

African-American woman in wheelchair with mother in city

Source: kali9 / Getty

It was once determined that the care provided by the average stay-at-home mom living in the United States was valued at approximately $163,000 per year. A new report from Oxfam appears to echo that sentiment but on a global scale.

According to the report, the unpaid care work provided by women and girls across the globe has an economic price tag of $10.8 trillion dollars per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the technology industry.

“Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector,” the report explains. “What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few.”

Globally, approximately 42 percent of women can’t work as a direct result of the unpaid care that they provide, such as acting as caregivers for children, the sick, and the elderly and household tasks like cooking and cleaning. In a second report released by Oxfam in partnership with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women in the United States spend 37 percent more of their time providing unpaid care in comparison to men.

“It’s an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labor,” notes Max Lawson, Oxfam International’s Head of Inequality Policy, during an interview with Vatican News.  “Whether it’s poorly paid labor or even unpaid labor, it is a sexist economy and it’s a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men.”

In order to address this issue, the report recommends that governments across the globe begin to build an economy that is both feminist and beneficial to the 99 percent as opposed to the 1 percent. This includes recognizing that care work has real value, implementing care-supporting infrastructures such as paid leave, and shift the responsibility of unpaid care work to the state and private sectors.

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