following are grounding assumptions and background comment developed by the
Women's Research Centre.
1. Women's work in the family and household is an integral but
invisible part of the already existing economy.
- Managing the household involves food budgeting and shopping,
planning and cooking nutritious meals, cleaning up, preserving food and
possibly planting/maintaining a garden. Women's home maintenance work includes
planning and doing daily and seasonal cleaning, overseeing or doing repairs,
making sure the home is comfortable for all who live in and visit it. Women
also plan, budget, and shop for most goods in the home, including clothing, and
do the washing, ironing, sewing, and mending of clothes.
- Women's maintenance of health and relationships within the
family and household includes supporting other family/household members in
their work and social life, acting as an emotional buffer between other members
and their work, community, and home, caring for family members when they are
ill and preventing illness generally. This emotional support is taken for
granted more than any other part of women's work.
- The responsibility of caring for children includes feeding,
clothing, cleaning, transporting, emotionally supporting and keeping children
safe at all their developmental stages. Women are usually responsible for
locating necessary child care or baby-sitting so they can participate in the
labour force, go to appointments, or have an evening out.
2. A valid analysis of the economy must include an understanding
of the sexual division of labour in the family, household, and labour force.
- Women's involvement (entry, exit, reentry) with the paid
labour force is directly affected by the birth and subsequent care, or
arranging for the care, of children.
- The number of hours women are available to work for wages,
participate in over- time, training, promotion, and relocation are influenced
by their family and household responsibilities.
- The type of work women do in the paid labour force is part
of a sexual division of labour.
3. Women's vulnerable position in the economy is based on the
sexual division of labour.
- Women's vulnerable position in the economy is partly
determined by her class position but even her class position is vulnerable
since it often depends on her relationship to a man.
- Women's responsibility for the care of children (and the lack
of affordable quality child care) means women working in the paid labour force
who become pregnant have to make a decision about how and if they will continue
working after their child is born. They may have to work part time or be
under-employed, thus earning less than a living wage, becoming more prone to
lay-offs and cut-backs.
- Many women with children choose or are forced to choose not
to work for pay at all thus becoming dependent on the state or a partner's
4. All changes in the economy have different impacts on women
of the depth
not work for
- When an economic crisis such as a recession causes a drop in
family income, women's household management and service work increases because
stretching the household budget and managing of family stress is considered
- The introduction of micro technology to the workplace
specifically changes the nature of the clerical and service work that is done,
due to the sexual division of labour, largely by women.
- Resource development such as offshore oil, logging, and
mineral extraction is often located away from settlements and family, thus the
price of a paycheque for a man is often separation from family and community
- Wherever and however economic booms and crises occur, women
are responsible for managing its impact in the home and, to a large extent, in
the community as well.
5. The family is an economic as well as a social unit.
- Government policies such as taxation, family allowance,
pension, and welfare are described as social policies but they also use the
family as an economic unit. They are not static; they develop and change
depending on government's socio-economic values, choices, and priorities.