When the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the latest coronavirus spending spree he said this: “You may have thought that was a lot (of money)“. Consider this. According to a new analysis from Oxfam, if American women received a minimum wage for the unpaid care work they do around the house, including caring for relatives, they would have made $1.5 trillion last year.
Globally, women would have earned $10.9 trillion. That exceeds the combined revenue of the 50 largest companies on the Fortune Global list. Women perform 75 percent of such work globally.
As schools and childcare centres close, as elderly or disabled parents, friends or neighbours require additional support, and as individuals en-masse (at least those lucky enough to still have a job) work from home, it begs the question: who will take on the burden of the additional unpaid care and domestic work that goes along with these seismic changes?
The short answer, most experts agree, is women. At least in the short to medium term. Past behaviour predicts future behaviour and all that.
This pandemic is causing a dramatic reappraisal on many fronts. Who would have thought Australia would essentially see the introduction of a basic income?
The value of women’s work, or the traditional undervaluing of such work, should not escape such scrutiny.