Unpaid Work Should Be Measured and Valued, but Mostly Isn’t

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Media Outlet: Financial Times

Elizabeth Weingarten writes for the Financial Times about why there should be a system to measure the work of unpaid workers, such as the work of stay-at-home-mothers:

When the executives of Fortune 500 companies work around the clock, society rewards them in prestige and, of course, in actual money. A lot of it. Their work is measured, however accurately, and compensated.
Not so the work of stay-at-home mothers. They too work around the clock, but their rewards are all intangible. Because they don’t walk into an office each day, their work is societally unmeasured, uncompensated and, unsurprisingly, undervalued.
This is a mistake. Measuring how much of this work is done, and then using that data to guide policy and investment decisions, has the potential to create new jobs, lift people out of poverty and contribute to economic growth. In every country in the world, tasks such as caring for children, the elderly and the sick, and household work (cooking, gathering water and firewood) are shouldered disproportionately by women. This means that the time women would’ve had to spend on paid work, education, running for political office or just plain relaxing shrinks.


Elizabeth Weingarten is the director of the Global Gender Parity Initiative, a project of the Better Life Lab where she is a senior fellow.