£1 trillion worth of unpaid housework, figures show

The article by Lindsey German of Counterfire with its juicy quote about “unpaid work” was passed on to me, and I was delighted to receive it.

[It said:]

“The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has estimated that the amount of unpaid household work carried out in the UK is worth £1.24 trillion a year. The value has grown by 80% since 2005.

“The unpaid work includes childcare, laundry, cooking, but also driving to work and those lengthy periods on computers when you are sorting insurance, or banking, or paying your bills having read your own meter. The majority of this work is carried out by women, already at a disadvantage in the labour market, and under increasing pressure over their unpaid work in the home as well.

“These are the figures which underline the reality that the vast majority of us experience in our daily lives. And it is a miserable, unhappy picture for many, often leading to stress and illness . . .”

It seems that Ms German has “discovered” that most unwaged work is done by women. That’s good. But it is late, since women have been doing this for centuries and some of us made it central to our politics from 1972.  After all, this work cares for people and helps them to make society, and increasingly we are dependent on this work for survival.  May we suggest how this injustice and overwork can be overcome?  The work she describes and a great deal more, which she has no room to mention, includes the important job that mothers do to protect our children and the whole community from all kinds of discrimination and even physical assault.  A Black mother has her hands full to protect her children from the racism including of police, social workers, even teachers etc. This  life-saving work of caring, and protecting and defending should not impoverish us, as it does now,  by not being socially recognized with a payment. We want a living wage for all carers, so that our burden can be lightened and we will not be punished with poverty, and invisible in the movement for change.   Did you know about the Fracking Grannies, who campaigned for years against this destruction of the environment?  Women are doing this life-enhancing work in so many ways, and in so many countries.  Demanding payment for such social caring supports it and therefore supports protecting our society not destroying it as governments, industry and the military have been doing.  It’s a demand to support and protect Life on Earth in all its forms.

Perhaps Ms German will want to support this.

The cuts in benefits such as UC would have killed many more people had not women spent the whole 24 hour day helping and fighting for our survival.

Selma James

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