Mercedes D’Alessandro, a young and innovative economist, writes and thinks of women’s work from a new point of view which has given rise to great interest and discussions in feminist circles.
Feminism is not something new, it has always existed. The idea that a woman should have the same rights as a man is an established cultural fact. So what is special about being a feminist in the period of history in which we are living?
One great difference is the role in the economic system that we women play today. In the 1960s only two women out of ten worked outside the house, today seven out of ten do so.This has completely transformed economic and social relations. On the whole, women now have greater autonomy because they have a profession and have incomes of their own at their disposal. In the United States women account for 50 per cent of the work force and in Argentina for more than 40 per cent. However all this has been and is obtained at the price of a double day of work: women, in most cases, continue to do the housework work and to take care of the family. These tasks demand a great deal of time (an average of six hours a day) and become an obstacle for those who cannot afford a domestic collaborator or who do not have access to a nursery school for their children. Many women must be employed for fewer hours if they are to manage to do everything or they must work very hard, never resting, which undermines their health and their personal growth. Today women are feminists with this double identity of being women with greater possibilities, yet at the same time still culturally confined to a domestic role and thus exposed to greater exploitation. Furthermore on average we earn less than our male peers and do not manage to achieve managerial positions. In short, capitalism has a hidden partner: the woman who does unpaid domestic work. And if things were to change, the market would suffer the consequences.
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