Putting a value on our work

Posted on September 24, 2009.

Guest blogger: Miren Gutierrez, IPS editor-in-chief

Seven PM at the supermarket. After a long day at the office, she is standing in line to pay for groceries to make dinner, stealing glances at her watch, grappling with two young kids who want her to buy some chewing gum…

Unequal sharing of the work pie. M. Sayagues

Unequal sharing of the work pie. M. Sayagues

Does this picture ring a bell? Survey after survey across the world report that women put in between 20 and 30 hours a week of domestic and family work. Unseen, unsung and unpaid, yes, but not insignificant.

Unpaid work in the home, done mainly by women, is estimated at approximately 50 percent of all productive activity even in industrial countries, and as much as 60-70 percent in many developing countries,” says Hazel Henderson in an interview with IPS. 

“The U.N. Human Development Report and its Human Development Index (HDI) in 1996 calculated that unpaid work was estimated at 16 trillion dollars (11 trillion dollars by women and 5 trillion dollars by men). This figure was simply missing from the official global GDP figure of 24 trillion dollars, although a truer figure would have been 40 trillion dollars for global GDP in 1996.”

Henderson – futurist, economic iconoclast, founder of Ethical Markets Media and author­ -  was commenting on the just published “Stiglitz-Sen Report”, which argues that countries need to find ways to measure well-being alongside raw economic growth.

Having dedicated her studies to an interdisciplinary economic and political theory focused on environmental and social issues, her views couldn’t be more pertinent.

(Find Henderson’s  books)