Why I Will #WalkInHerShoes This March
Why will I Walk In Her Shoes this March?
Because in developing countries women and girl children are still primarily tasked with running their households, to great detriment.
Women do the majority of the world's housekeeping, child rearing, subsistence farming and food preparation which prohibits them from participating equally in school, the workplace and the political sphere. On average the females in the home must walk an extra 6km per day on foot to collect food, water and firewood for the family.
And often this is done without proper resources to easily facilitate the process, wearing threadbare footwear (if any) and carrying heavy loads across the landscape without clear roads.
Walk In Her Shoes supports the international development work of CARE Australia by providing clean water and food close to homes to reduce the number of hours spent fetching and producing these items. This allows girls and women to increase their attendance in the classroom and to take on more paid employment.
The gender division of unpaid work is displayed in the graph below. Globally, women spend more than double the time on unpaid work per day, but the gap widens in developing countries where the work is more difficult and time-consuming (e.g. in India it's 6:1).
Women having less time in their day to partake in paid work affects the welfare of the entire family. By not having time to do homework a girl's chances at employment after graduation are diminished and her future children's chances of adequate health and education are decreased. Children born to uneducated mothers are far more likely to die before the age of 5 and are less likely to ever graduate school. By not facilitating equal participation in working life, entire economies are held back.
Even when women do have paid jobs they only receive on average 40-60% of a male's wage while still balancing the unpaid housework on top of their paid hours. These two facts compounded mean women are doing a lot more work than men for a lot less money, while continuing to be devalued by society for their lack of economic contribution.
But wait up... If women are doing the most work, doesn't that mean that the backs of our economies are built on the unpaid labour of women?
Damn, it almost sounds like the invisible work of women is vital to maintaining the world as know it. Yet the international economy fails to value their labour as 'work' because nobody is paying them.
This devaluation of women's contribution to society and the economy is what bleeds into more visible forms of gender discrimination such as infanticide, child marriages, honour killings, domestic violence, rape culture and more. We systemically undervalue our women and write them off as worthless and therefore the disposable property of men. When a real look at the numbers shows this is anything but true.
Melinda Gates suggests we follow the three R's to diminish the inequality of unpaid labour: Recognise, Reduce, and Redistribute.
Recognise that unpaid work is still work. Reduce the amount of time and energy it takes. Redistribute it more evenly between women and men.
The Walk In Her Shoes challenge talks about Recognising the weight of unpaid work and supports CARE in the act of Reducing the time and energy it takes. This project is specifically working on the most fundamental human needs: food and water. If a woman doesn't even have easy access to these things, chances of sustainable economic and social development are low!
Walk In Her Shoes is raising awareness of the importance of women's unpaid work. Instead of judging our values through work in the boardroom or Parliament, we need to consider the value of work going on in kitchens, bedrooms, village wells and fields around the world.
The worth of female’s work in running households, working menial unskilled jobs, and the investment of their time into the next generation should be considered substantial contributions to a national or global economy.
These women are already giving so much that it's time we helped them access better resources so they can increasingly participate in the political and economic realms to have more say in the policies and social constructs that dictate their lives.
So for one week I'll be scheduling time out of my day to walk an erroneous 5-10km to raise awareness of the time limitations women face.
To support the Saheli Designs' team or my personal profile you can fine the donate link here: http://bit.ly/1LJuvVQ and hit Going here to show your support and spread awareness: www.facebook.com/events/502168259956134/.
Money helps, but awareness is everything in helping sculpt better social attitudes and political policies as we move into a more equal future.