Lie 1: Unpaid work is just cooking and cleaning – it has no economic value
Waring, who starred in the documentary Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex Lies and Global Economics, believes there’s great irony in putting a dollar value on “unpaid work” when international rules like gross domestic product and national accounts gravely undervalue the significance, impact and opportunity that this work provides to society.
In an attempt to give “authority” to the argument that unpaid domestic work – largely undertaken by women across the globe – is economically significant, Waring sought to estimate its monetary value. “[But I] realised that by inviting estimations of unpaid work, I was inviting us to give market values [according] to a system that said ammunition and wars are valuable, everything that devastated our seas and our air are valuable … I now don’t think that at all.”
“When you start putting dollar value on a polar bear as a species or the time people spend caring for kids, you strip away what we’re actually talking about.”
If Sweden and Germany can roll out “very generous” parental leave schemes that oblige both mothers and fathers to take time off, and New Zealand can establish universal basic income for its senior population to age with dignity, Waring challenges Australia to reflect on bigger ideas too.
Lie 2: Superannuation is universal
Australia’s superannuation industry systemically rips off women, said Denniss.
With the national gender pay gap averaging above 15%, Denniss said superannuation magnifies inequality between men and women even further.
Waring believes there’s a possibility for Australian women today to bring about legislative change through a class action lawsuit before the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) committee.
Any Australian citizen who has exhausted all domestic legal remedies can access CEDAW to trigger an international human rights obligation, she said.