Saturday, March 5, 2011

Women's Unpaid Work Remains Unrecognized

A recent study has shed more light on a long suspected truth---that women are not being recognized for unpaid work. 
   Monica Boyd, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto says "It's fundamentally built into the existing structure of gender relations in which there still is a valuation of the jobs that men do of being better, of being more worthy of higher pay, being more skilled."
   The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development has produced a paper contending that between 1/3 and 1/2 of the "valuable economic activity" in some of the world's richest countries goes unrecognized.
   The work referred to is unpaid work, including such household tasks as cleaning, cooking and caring for children or the elderly.  It also includes volunteer work.  Household production constitutes an important aspect of economic activity.  26 OECD-member countries including Canada, USA, China much of Europe, India, South Africa and all non-OECD countries were also included.
   The average time spent doing unpaid work is 3.4 hours a day for people in all countries, which amounts to about 14 per cent of a person's day.  Canada was in line with the average on this measure.
   Women spent an average of 4.7 hours a day doing unpaid work, compared to about 2.2 hours for men.  The gap was less in Canada with women doing about 4.2 hours of unpaid labor a day compared to around 2.5 hours for men.
   The organization found some notable differences in the amount of time men and women put into unpaid child care.  Mothers who were not working outside the home were found to care for their children an average of 2.4 hours a day in all countries assessed, or 1.2 hours if they did have outside jobs.
   For fathers, even those not working spent less than an hour a day--51 minutes--on caring for their children on average, and it was 40 minutes for those who were working.
   Women in Canada found stay-at-home-moms spent an average of 3.1 hours a day caring for children, while working moms spent a little more than 1.6 hours. Fathers put in slightly less than 1.6 hours a day of child care if they were not working and just less than one hour daily if they were employed.
   There was almost no difference between men and women in the amount of time spent volunteering.
   The study was released just ahead of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day on Tuesday March 8, 2011.

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