CWEARC welcomes research valuing women’s unpaid work

By SHERWIN DE VERA
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera for Women’s Education, Action Research Center, Inc. (CWEARC) welcomed the research findings of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) that accounted the monetary value of “unpaid work” of women in the country.

“Indeed, women greatly contribute to the country’s economy because of the important work they do at home which is often overlooked by economist and policy makers, since it is an ‘unpaid work’,” said Cynthia Dacanay, CWEARC executive director and a veteran women’s rights activist.

She said it is about time this truth is recognized, underscoring that “if women were to stop performing their tasks at home, society will surely collapse because nobody will do the essential function of keeping the productive forces in society alive and healthy.”

In this research, PIDS established that unpaid work of women in the country runs in trillions.

Senior research fellow Michael Abrigo of said the monetary value of time spent by women for child and elder care, and household chores comprised 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“We want to bring home the message that there’s value on housework, na hindi ibig sabihin nito na porke’t nasa bahay sila ay walang value yung oras nila. We want to convert these time units into monetary units,” explained the researcher.

Citing data in 2015, he said paid work of both sexes was valued at PHP9.3 trillion pesos while their unpaid work totaled P2.5 trillion pesos. Women’s contributions on these were at 40 percent and 76 percent, respectively.

A state responsibility

According to Abrigo, the study found that mothers who spent more time working outside their homes are more likely to have children who are not attending school, or are lagging behind their peers. He also mentioned other studies that showed families of working mothers who spend less time at home tend to eat more outside, or are less healthier.

He said these are some of the reasons that prevent women from taking paying jobs outside their home. A way to resolve this issue, he proposed, is to encourage men to help their spouses do household chores.

Dacanay agrees with the recommendation.

“Men or other members of the family must also do their share in housekeeping,” she said.

However, she added that “housework and childcare must be addressed not individually but instead more systematically by the state.”

The women’s rights activist emphasized the need “to socialize the responsibility of child-care and domestic work” by establishing child-minding centers in workplaces and more public laundry shops.

“This however means that society’s workforce must be paid enough in order to afford such arrangements or it can also be taken on by the state,” she said.

The root cause

Based on the study of Abrigo’s team, there has been movement towards gender parity in terms of time spent at work in the country in the last 25 years.

He explained that from a peak of about 40 hours per week, the time spent by men working has gone down to an average of 5 hours. While for women, especially those beyond reproductive ages, increased by 5 hours per week.

According to PIDS, as of 2015, only 2 percent of men from single family households are at home doing the chores of mothers and their spouses.

While recognizing the importance of the study, Dacanay said the move towards similarity of work time does not remove the fact that women’s economic contribution have been overlooked and undermined because of “cash economy” and the “prevailing feudal and patriarchal culture.”

“When cash economy has been introduced, it devalued women’s work. Even with the same type of work women and men are engaged in for instance the daily wage in agricultural work, men’s wages are higher than women,” she said

She cited indigenous peoples’ communities in the Cordillera where cash economy has not yet totally overtook the traditional and subsistence economies.

“In the context of indigenous people’s communities, housework and farm work which were basically done by the women were as essential as the tasks by the men who are engaged in hunting,” Dacanay explained.

According to her, since the tasks are complementary and reciprocal for the family and community’s continued survival, thus equally valued.

She underscored that businesses mainly reaps from the arrangement (women as homemakers).

“They (the women) do the important job of keeping work force ‘healthy’ yet this function is unpaid, so they (the businesses) save on certain costs,” she said. # nordis.net

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