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Women as Educated Participants in the Economy » Women's Courage

Women as Educated Participants in the Economy

February 28th, 2013 by mvtrione Leave a reply »

In developing countries, it is misleading to talk of women’s “entry” into the workforce.  Formal employment notwithstanding, women are always working in the home looking after children, cleaning, and cooking.  Since this is unpaid labor, it is not counted in official statistics such as GNP.  The need for women’s unpaid labor has been known to increases with economic shocks associated with pandemics (i.e. AIDS), or restructuring of the economy (i.e. post conflict).  Poor women do more unpaid work, work longer hours and may accept degrading working conditions during times of crisis, just to ensure that their families survive.   The societal value of housework and other forms of care work is little, and thus when domestic labor is paid, it is with minimum wages.   Women’s voices as workers (paid or unpaid), citizens, and consumers are often missing from debates on development, in politics and finance.

Systematic exclusion of women from access to schooling and the labor force led to this conception of domestic work as low-skill, low-value, and unworthy of greater rights/wages.  The exclusion of women from schooling translates into a less educated workforce, inefficient allocation of labor (missing out on the employment of almost half the population), lost productivity, and consequently diminished progress of economic development.  This would suggest that countries with higher standards of gender equality would be more likely to have higher economic growth.  Of course, the benefits of women’s education go beyond higher productivity for 50 percent of the population.  The ability to participate in the formal economy, if desired, can be considered a basic right.  Additionally, as I have talked about in previous posts, more educated women also tend to be healthier, earn higher income, have reduced fertility, and provide better health care and education to the children they do have — all of which have the possibility of lifting entire households out of poverty.




1 comment

  1. Michelle says:

    We spoke about this topic in my ecology earlier this week. I think your analyzation of the reasons why domestic work is unpaid or underpaid is very insightful. Because domestic work is low-skilled it is undervalued, when in fact it can be a job that results in major mental and physical exhaustion. I agree that more educated women are needed to defend the rights of domestic workers.

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