New maths needed for home work

Date: January 1, 1970
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This article looks at the huge amount of work women carry on their shoulders as they try to balance their carreers with the other roles that society has prescribed for them. Stanbic Lusaka branch manager Jacklyn Mutale is one such woman who has to manage these two worlds.

This article may be used to:
1. Showcase best practices in gender and media reporting
2. Illustrate the point that media is slowly changing its attitude towards women in ‘male’ viewed fields.
3. Spark discussion around the ‘double day’ that most working women are faced with – a full working day plus unpaid work of maintaining the home.
4. Show that although most women have moved out of the private domain and taken up employment, society still expects them to fulfil their traditional roles e.g. housekeeping and care work.
Trainer’s notes
Society has never viewed house keeping as a challenging role. It is seen as something that women do effortlessly. This article raises fundamental questions about the nature of work that women do.The second paragraph of this article puts to rest assumptions that house keeping or being a housewife is not energy consuming. For example the mock advert lists as some of the duties of a housewife, ‘counsellor, financial manager, buying officer, teacher, nurse, chef, nutritionist, decorator, cleaner, child care supervisor, social secretary and recreation officer. This is just to highlight the numerous tasks that most house wives have to undertake. These responsibilities are not restricted to non working women as even professional women have to still come back home and fulfil these duties.
This article shows that the gains made by women’s entry into the public domain are reversed by the demands that they have to contend with back home. It is also evident from this article that unpaid work is often ignored. This is because this is often considered as one of women’s many duties. When a women enters the working world, she is still expected to take care of the household. There is no expectation that her husband or partner should take up the slack. In fact, ‘neglecting the home’ is often used as an excuse to prevent or stop women from working. Even when the man is unemployed and the woman working outside the home, she is often still expected to complete her ‘housewifely duties’ as she normally would. This means that women who work outside the home essentially work a ‘double day,’ and even weekends or non-work days are occupied with the unpaid work of maintaining the household.
The work that women do outside the formal labour market is very difficult to quantify or put a price to. However, the Zambian government is attempting to initiate a time use study that will take into account the unpaid work that women do. This is a first step in beginning to acknowledge this work and understand its importance to a country’s economy.
Discussion Questions
1. What do you think the impact this ‘double day’ phenomenon has on working women? Would you be able to give 100% at your job if you knew that all of the household responsibilities were waiting for you at home?
2. Are the working women you know expected to take care of the house as well? How do they manage? Do their husbands, partners or other male family members (eldest son, for example) help them?
3. What do you think about the Zambian government’s initiative to gather data on unpaid labour? Do you think it will have a positive impact?
4. What else needs to be done to alleviate this problem? What can men do to support working women? 
Training Exercises
1. Conduct a survey among people in your community. Do they feel it’s right that working women should also still care for the household? Do they think men should help out? What if the woman is the only breadwinner – should the man then take care of the house?
2. Write down all the unpaid household tasks that are normally done by women. Include everything from child care to help with homework to cooking, cleaning, and financial planning. Make an estimate of the time spent per month on each task. Find out what kinds of salaries professionals in those industries make – for example, cooking: how much does a chef make? Cleaning: how much does a domestic worker make? Childcare: How much does an au pair or babysitter make? From this participants will be able to estimate how much an average woman would make per year if she were paid for her household tasks. Multpily that by the number of women in your country – imagine how much more women could be contributing to the economy if they really were getting paid for all that work!
Links to other training resources
Business Unusual
Related GL Commentaries

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