Closing the door to your office and focusing solely on work-related tasks is a luxury that many people do not have. In fact, most women, on top of their professional work, have to deal with a daily list of domestic duties that has a direct impact on both their mental health and their financial health. This is known as invisible work.
An endless accumulation of chores
Invisible work is the accumulation of unpaid tasks that eat into a daily schedule so that all the organizational aspects of family life run smoothly. For example, a woman might help her children with their homework, drive them places, take care of the grocery shopping, and do the cleaning. This allows a household to save on the costs of a housekeeper or a babysitter. . These people might also be looking after their ageing parents or a child with special needs. All while working full-time on the side, of course.
The bulk of shared household tasks unfairly rests on women’s shoulders. It is primarily women who must juggle daily interruptions and a heavy mental load. Women thus work approximately 1.5 hours less doing paid work, but spend almost 3 hours per day doing household and organizational tasks. (Statistics Canada)
A major impact on women’s employment
In fact, in order to be able to free up time to take care of their families and loved ones, many women reduce the amount of time they spend working outside of the home. By accepting part-time positions, they lose out on opportunities to advance in their career, to receive a salary increase, never mind their personal and professional self-actualization. . They are invisibilized outside the home and redirected to the home.
A salary reduction or a decelerated career has repercussions on a woman’s economic situation at several levels:
Since women’s invisible work is generally not valued, whether by governments or individuals, they are placed in a context of financial dependence with respect to their partner. This situation tends to be amplified if a couple separates: The woman finds herself with a more limited income, poorer, and her financial future takes a toll over the long term, as this will also affect her ability to obtain credit or plan for her retirement. It should be noted that despite shared custody, it’s often the woman who continues to shoulder most of the responsibilities, such as purchasing clothes and school supplies, or taking the children to their medical appointments.
Acknowledgement, but little action
This unpaid but necessary work has been recognized by the UN since 1975. There is even an international day to mark this fact. Very little has changed since, and the situation of many women, one that has worsened since the pandemic, has still not changed.
At the YWCA we help women with their daily challenges, so they can participate in and contribute to society to the best of their abilities. For example, we help support family caregivers so they have a place where they can escape their daily work and find space to breathe.
We also encourage youth and women to break gender stereotypes with respect to their career choices, helping to redirect them to sectors that will allow them to achieve true financial autonomy.
Lastly, the YWCA also provides support to women who are looking for work so they can find jobs that meet their professional ambitions, but also their need to find a good work-life balance.
Women’s invisible work is a reality, not a fatality!