Letter to the Editor: If women stop, the world stops

Letter to the Editor: If women stop, the world stops

8 March 2021

Dear Editor,

It’s often said that “a woman’s work is never done” –and judging by the millions of hours of paid and unpaid care work undertaken by women and girls globally, which rapidly increased with the onset of Covid-19, that old adage is truer than ever.

The pandemic has been called “the great equaliser”. However, the past 12 months made it clear that the most excluded, oppressed, and vulnerable groups, such as girls and women in all their diversity, have been disproportionately affected by its impact.

Globally, women have been the first to lose their jobs. They make up a majority of our frontline health workers and have shouldered the increased responsibilities of unpaid care work.

Care work is the “hidden engine” that keeps the wheels of our economies,businesses and societies turning. Before the pandemic hit, women and girls undertook more than 75 percent of unpaid care work in the world and made up two-thirds of the paid care workforce –carrying out 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work every day. When valued at minimum wage, this would represent a contribution to the global economy of at least $10.8 trillion a year.

Women in Ireland, meanwhile, put in 38 million hours of unpaid care work every week, adding at least €24 billion of value to the Irish economy every year.

Around the world, the pressure on carers, both unpaid and paid, is set to increase as the global population grows and ages. An estimated 2.3 billion people will need care by 2030, an increase of 200 million since 2015.

So, in the run-up to International Women’s Day 2021, it might be worth considering another saying –one that reflects the true value of all this work: “If women stop, the world stops.”

Yours etc

Whelma Villar-Kennedy

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