Let me start by saying that I believe there have been great strides made in how heterosexual relationships divide the domestic stuff. More men are cleaning, cooking and organizing than was ever imaginable even 30 years ago.
There’s no denying that women are doing even more of it, as a new study from Oxfam, “Unpaid and Underpaid Care Work and the Global Inequality Crisis,” makes very clear. Not only is the act of care — for kids, for elderly and sick people and those with disabilities — an essential part of a community, it’s also work the organization estimates is worth $10.8 trillion each year.
It’s an issue that challenges women across the world, and I spoke to HuffPost Canada Parents editor Natalie Stechyson about what she related to about the study, which prompted her to assign an article about it.
“The topic of unpaid labor, mental load, and the often unfair distribution of child care responsibilities is a topic that comes up in my professional life as well as my personal life pretty much daily,” she says. “To see a number put to this was pretty staggering … and validating, if I’m being honest.”
She notes that although her husband does plenty around the house, it’s frustrating that it doesn’t even occur to him that certain things need to be done.
“Up until last week, when I finally snapped and said I was too tired to do it, my husband had actually never bought any clothes for our son,” said Natalie, who is 36 weeks pregnant. “He’s three and a half. Maybe clothes don’t seem like a big deal, but given how fast a kid grows, having a wardrobe for every size and season — and then packing it away and replacing it with new items — takes so much work and planning. Did you know some of the best snowsuit deals happen in August? This is the kind of information I now store in my brain.”