Woman Plus...
  N 2, 2002

Unpaid women's labour

Unpaid women's labour - women's labour which produces goods and facility but is not rewarded. It includes domestic labour, natural production for family needs and also unpaid production of goods for sale. Its product isn't remunerated by the economics though as a whole it is useful for economics. The women themselves hardly become aware of this fact. There is a tendency towards underestimation of unpaid women's labour. According to the estimation of UNDP (United Nation Development Program, 1995) unpaid labour comprises more than 70% of the total world output, and women make up the majority of unpaid labour. Beijing Platform of Action (1995) mentions: "Women contribution to the development is seriously underestimated, and as a result its public acknowledgement is limited. A clear idea of types, scope and division of such unpaid labour will also promote more even allocation of responsibilities".

Studying the time budgets, researches succeeded to determine duration and types of work carried out by men and women in different countries. UNDP ascertained that in all the countries women work longer than men. In developing countries two thirds of women's labour is unpaid.

Some types of unpaid production is taken into account by the System of National Accounts, recommended by the UN Statistical Office in 1993; but it does not take into consideration domestic labour and reproductive labour. Beijing Platform of Action obliges the governments to work at including of statistical estimations of women's domestic labour in their national accounts. It should be mentioned that national statistical systems of some countries - among them Canada, Norway and Netherlands - try to inculcate measuring of women's unpaid labour in "satellite national accounts".

"Invisibility" of women's labour in the national statistics causes neglect of the role of women's unpaid labour in the welfare of the country. As a result, this role isn't taken into account when working out social and economical national politics of the country, which, as a matter of fact, is guided by mistaken data.

Thus, according to the researches (M. E. Baskakova), a new system of pensions provision which is being enacted in Russia now, will have different consequences for men and women who during their active life had family duties and in this connection did unpaid job. The consequence of it is women salary lag, decrease of seniority at the expense of maternity leave, children sick-lists. The problem of pension for divorced husbands and wives isn't settled either. In a family where paid and unpaid labours are not evenly shared between husband and wife, a woman who undertook most of domestic duties and for this reason amassed less pensionary installment than her husband, in case of divorce, in accordance with Family code of RF (Russian Federation) currently in force, would not be able to pretend to a part of pensionary payment of her former husband.

Alla Denisova


Alexander Patrisia, Baden Sally. Gender glossary of macroeconomic terms / prepared by BRIDGE in cooperation with GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) / translated from English / Institute of Development Studies and Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH/ISBN 1 85864 317 1. February 2000.
Evgeny Altovsky. New view on the system of national accounts // informational analytic newspaper "Modus" 16(95) of August 15, 1999: <http://modus.mobile.ru/index.html?id=1009>
Baskakova M. E. Equal opportunities and gender stereotypes in the labour-market // Project "Gender expertise" of Moscow Center of Gender Studies. M., 1998. <http://ngo.org.ru/ngoss/get/id12723.html>
Unpaid labour is also very important // Australian diary <http://klendo.narod.ru/ARCHIVE/OCTOBER/AD1011.htm>
Platform of actions // Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, September 4-15, 1995). UNO, 1995. . 11-150.