Sure, the fact that 47% of the workforce in Canada, for example, 25 years old and older are women is part of that point. If they all walked off the job, we’d have to somehow virtually double the men in the workforce. And that’s not including females under 25.
But—you may ask—couldn’t we say the same thing about men? If all men walked off the job, wouldn’t the same thing happen?
Absolutely. However, workforce labour is only a portion of women’s labour.
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Women do most of the work at home. In fact, in Canada, they perform 50% more of the unpaid household work than men do. They are more likely to cook the meals, do the laundry, do the dishes, clean the house, and so on.
And full bellies, clean clothes, and a healthy home are critical for a productive workforce. Without the labour of mothers, wives, girlfriends—and even daughters and sisters—the male members of the workforce would be less productive.
On top of that, some of those women performing the unpaid household labour also participate in the workforce. So they are contributing to the economy directly through their own paid labour and indirectly through their unpaid labour that helps keep the males productive.
And let’s not forget the primarily women-led industries that workers rely on to be productive, such as childcare (daycare, nannies, babysitting, etc), teaching (84% of elementary school teachers in Canada are women), errand running (concierge, housecleaning, laundry, etc), and so on.
The economy thrives on the labour of women: both in the workforce and in the home. It‘s time we start recognizing that.
And maybe in the process, the men can do more to ease that burden.