Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Farzana Aslam Writes on the Value of Domestic Work on International Women's Day (SCMP)

"Women's quest for equality will remain out of reach until we begin to respect the value of domestic work"
Farzana Aslam
South China Morning Post
8 March 2016
In the lead-up to March 8, International Women’s Day, I have found myself humming one of Alicia Keys’ most memorable tunes and reflecting upon the line: “A real man just can’t deny a woman’s worth.” I have many friends who have fallen into patterns of domesticity that I associate with 1950s divisions of labour; namely, that the man of the household goes out to work while the woman gives up her career in order to look after the children and the running of the household.
      The fact that, when children come along, one partner may need to sacrifice his or her career in order to take primary responsibility for care-giving is perhaps inevitable; that it invariably falls to the woman is less so.
      But what is certainly not inevitable is the lack of value accorded to women once they do so. Some of my female friends express guilt or a sense of worthlessness for not making any financial contribution to the household.
     Others, who have been out of the workforce for some time, have lost confidence in their ability to rejoin the workforce. On the flip side, I have male friends who define their wives as “stay at home”, “a kept woman” or “not working”.
     Why do I have a problem with this? Well, because implicit in this discourse is that the running of a household and the care of young children are viewed as “non-work”. Women undertaking labour such as budgeting, shopping, cleaning, cooking, driving, care of children or other family members are regarded as dependents rather than “workers”. This is a misrepresentation of the contribution that women make to the economy and well-being of the family unit and society as a whole... Click here to read the full article.

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